Environmental contamination by brominated flame retardants (BFRs) has received a lot of attention in the scientific literature since the late 1990s. A number of BFRs, such as penta- and octabromodiphenyl ethers (penta- and octaBDE's) and hexabromocyclododecane were identified as bioaccumulating and potentially toxic compounds. For others the databases are still incomplete. This chapter gives an overview of recent trends of BFR concentrations in the environment, with some attention to the analytical methods and difficulties, and their toxicology. The European ban on penta- and octaBDE's has already initiated decreasing trends in their environmental levels in Europe. However, the concentrations of these BFRs in the USA are considerably higher than in Europe and decreasing trend have not been observed yet. In sediments, much higher decaBDE concentrations have been found as compared to pentaBDE concentrations, both in Europe and the USA. DecaBDE was recently banned in Europe for use in electric circuit boards, but applications in textile and furniture are still allowed. Endocrine disruption, often through the thyroid gland is the most worrying effect of several BFRs.


brominated flame retardants polybromodiphenyl ethers hexabromocyclodo-decane decabromodiphenylethane environment analysis risk 


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Environmental StudiesVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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