Assessing exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) for workers in the vicinity of a large recycling facility
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Increased levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) can occur particularly in dust and soil surrounding facilities that recycle products containing PBDEs. This may be the source of increased exposure for nearby workers and residents. To investigate, we measured PBDE levels in soil, office dust and blood of workers at the closest workplace (i.e. within 100 m) to a large automotive shredding and metal recycling facility in Brisbane, Australia. The workplace investigated in this study was independent of the automotive shredding facility and was one of approximately 50 businesses of varying types within a relatively large commercial/industrial area surrounding the recycling facility. Concentrations of PBDEs in soils were at least an order of magnitude greater than background levels in the area. Congener profiles were dominated by larger molecular weight congeners; in particular BDE-209. This reflected the profile in outdoor air samples previously collected at this site. Biomonitoring data from blood serum indicated no differential exposure for workers near the recycling facility compared to a reference group of office workers, also in Brisbane. Unlike air, indoor dust and soil sample profiles, serum samples from both worker groups were dominated by congeners BDE-47, BDE-153, BDE-99, BDE-100 and BDE-183 and was similar to the profile previously reported in the general Australian population. Estimated exposures for workers near the industrial point source suggested indoor workers had significantly higher exposure than outdoor workers due to their exposure to indoor dust rather than soil. However, no relationship was observed between blood PBDE levels and different roles and activity patterns of workers on-site. These comparisons of PBDE levels in serum provide additional insight into the inter-individual variability within Australia. Results also indicate congener patterns in the workplace environment did not match blood profiles of workers. This was attributed to the relatively high background exposures for the general Australian population via dietary intake and the home environment.
Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Environmental Chemistry (incl. Atmospheric Chemistry)