Acta Vet. Brno 2006, 75: 587-599

Brominated Flame Retardants in the Environment: their Sources and Effects (A Review)

P. Mikula, Z. Svobodová

Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Czech Republic

Received April 12, 2006
Accepted June 30, 2006

Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are organic substances frequently used in many industries. The most important group within BFRs are polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Because they persist in the environment, accumulate in food chains and have toxic effects, they are a potential health risk both for animals and humans. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers may disrupt processes of hormonal regulation in living organisms by reducing thyroxine concentrations in the plasma of the exposed individuals. In vitro studies have demonstrated the ability of these substances to bind to estrogen and androgen receptors. Tests on rodents have also demonstrated neurotoxicity of some of the PBDEs. Although industrial use of PBDEs is now regulated to a large extent, PBDEs have already been detected in areas with no apparent industrial load, e.g. in Greenland. This article presents an overview of BFRs-related issues with a particular emphasis on PBDEs, describes toxic effects of those substances and their metabolism in living organisms, and discusses issues related to the incidence of PBDEs in the environment.