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Legacy and alternative brominated, chlorinated, and organophosphorus flame retardants in indoor dust—levels, composition profiles, and human exposure in Latvia


Flame retardants (FRs) are additives used in consumer products to reduce flammability, even though they can easily contaminate the indoor environment. Since it is common for people in modern cities to spend up to 85% of time indoors, the quality of the indoor environment is critical for human health. In this study, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), organophosphorus flame retardants (OPFRs), emerging brominated flame retardants (EBFRs), and dechlorane-related compounds (DRCs) were measured in household dust samples (n = 34) from Latvia, followed by human exposure assessment. Among all studied compounds, OPFRs showed the highest concentrations (1380–133,000 ng g−1). Despite the phase-out of PBDEs, they were the second most significant flame retardants in the studied dust samples (468–25,500 ng g−1) and the predominant compound was BDE-209. The concentrations of EBFRs were in the range of 120–7295 ng g−1, with the most abundant contaminant being DBDPE, which is widely used as a substitute for the deca-BDE formulation. DRCs were the least common flame retardants in the Latvian indoor environments, with concentrations ranging 22.4–192 ng g−1. Although the concentrations of specific FRs are known to vary between different countries, the levels and patterns observed in dust samples from Latvia were similar to those reported from Central Europe. Human exposure was evaluated as the estimated daily intake (EDI). The calculated exposure to most of the FRs was several orders of magnitude lower than the available reference dose (RfD) values.

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Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on request.


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Authors and Affiliations



All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, analysis, and data collection were performed by Elina Pasecnaja and Ingus Perkons. The study was supervised by Dzintars Zacs and Vadims Bartkevics. All authors contributed to the data analysis and writing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Elina Pasecnaja.

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This is an observational study, no ethical approval is required.

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Pasecnaja, E., Perkons, I., Bartkevics, V. et al. Legacy and alternative brominated, chlorinated, and organophosphorus flame retardants in indoor dust—levels, composition profiles, and human exposure in Latvia. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 25493–25502 (2021).

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  • Indoor dust
  • Legacy flame retardants
  • Alternative flame retardants
  • Human exposure