Are brominated flame retardants endocrine discruptors?

J. Legler, A. Brouwer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are a group of compounds that have received much attention recently due to their similarity with "old" classes of organohalogenated compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), in terms of their fate, stability in the environment and accumulation in humans and wildlife. Toxic effects, including teratogenicity, carcinogenicity and neurotoxicity, have been observed for some BFR congeners, in particular the brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs). This concise review focuses on the potency of BFRs and to disrupt endocrine systems, and attempts to answer the question whether or not BFRs are endocrine disruptors. Evidence is provided on the disruption of the thyroid hormone system by BFRs, with particular emphasis on the BDEs, as most recent data is available on this class of flame retardants. Similar to the hydroxylated PCBs, in vitro mechanistic studies as well as animal experiments have demonstrated the effects of BDEs on thyroid hormone transport and metabolism. An overview of possible effects of BFRs on the estrogen system is also provided. Research gaps are outlined, as well as ongoing and future studies in the European community aimed at contributing to comprehensive risk assessments based on the endocrine-disrupting effects of BFRs. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-885
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment International
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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