High Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Levels in California House Cats: House Dust a Primary Source?

Guo W., Park J.S., Wang Y., et al.

Environ Toxicol Chem, 2012. 31(2): p.301-6.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are brominated flame retardants that act as endocrine disruptors, affecting thyroid hormone homeostasis. As a follow-up to a recent study showing high PBDE levels in household cats and linking PBDE levels with cat hyperthyroidism, we measured PBDEs, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and organochlorinated pesticides (OCPs) in serum samples from 26 California household cats (16 hyperthyroid, 10 controls) using liquid-liquid extraction and high-resolution gas chromatography/high-resolution mass spectrometry. In the present pilot study, we found that PBDE levels in California house cats were extremely high (SigmaPBDEs median = 2,904 ng/g lipid; range, 631-22,537 ng/g lipid). This is approximately 50 times higher than levels in California residents (SigmaPBDEs geomean = 62 +/- 8.9 ng/g lipid, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), who have among the highest human levels in the world. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers congener patterns (BDE-99 major congener, BDE-209 significant) differed markedly from patterns found in California residents (BDE-47 major) or wildlife but resembled patterns found in house dust. Polychlorinated biphenyls and OCPs in cats were highly correlated, consistent with a shared dietary source or pathway of exposure, but did not correlate with PBDEs. This suggests a different source or pathway of exposure for PBDEs, which was most likely house dust. The authors found no evidence that linked levels of PBDEs, PCBs, or OCPs with hyperthyroidism. This may be because of the small sample size, competing or confounding risk factors, or complicated causal mechanisms. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:301-306. (c) 2011 SETAC.