Exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) among pregnant women in Western Australia

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Introduction: The main aim of this thesis was to investigate the concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in residential dust and plasma samples of pregnant women living in Western Australia. PBDEs are a type of brominated flame retardant, a chemical that has been used in consumer goods to reduce their flammability. There is a growing body of research around concentrations, toxicity and health effects of PBDEs in humans. However, little is known about PBDEs and environmental exposure in the Western Australian population. Hence, by using environmental and biological samples to measure PBDE concentrations this thesis has helped to improve our understanding of concentrations and possible predictors of exposure in Western Australia. Methods: Pregnant women, aged 18 years or older, who were non-smokers, not occupationally exposed to persistent toxic substances and living in Western Australia were recruited between 2008 and 2011 to the Australian Maternal Exposure to Toxic Substances (AMETS) study. Recruitment targeted pregnant women in both rural and metropolitan areas across Western Australia. Participants completed a questionnaire that focused on demographic and lifestyle information and also included questions relating to activities that may increase exposure to PBDEs. A sub-sample of 30 residential dust samples were analysed for PBDE content by the National Measurement Institute. At 38 weeks gestation, each participant provided blood samples. Concentrations of PBDEs were analysed in 164 plasma samples by the Nha Trang Pasteur Institute. Results and Conclusions: PBDEs were present in residential dust in Western Australia and concentrations were higher than levels observed in previous Australian studies. The data suggest that concentrations are higher in urban areas. PBDEs were detected in all plasma samples from pregnant women at concentrations higher than in samples from parts of Europe and Japan. Due to the persistence of PBDEs in the environment and in humans, further work is now required to understand the impact on human health due to the uncertainty that exists around the compounds' mechanisms of action.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


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