Children's exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) through mouthing toys

Alin C Ionas, Jocelyn Ulevicus, Ana Ballesteros Gómez, Sicco H Brandsma, Pim E G Leonards, Margot van de Bor, Adrian Covaci

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have previously been detected in children toys, yet the risk of child exposure to these chemicals through the mouthing of toys or other items is still unknown. We aimed to expand on the current knowledge by investigating the impact of infants' mouthing activities on exposure to PBDEs present in toys. This was established by a leaching model for determining the amount PBDEs that can leach from toys into saliva in simulated conditions. The PBDE migration rate was at its highest for the 15 min low-exposure scenario incubations (198 pg/cm(2) × min) with the ERM EC-591 certified reference material (CRM) (0.17% w/w PBDEs). The leaching process was congener-dependent, since the percentage of lower brominated PBDE congeners that leached out was up to 4.5 times higher than for the heavier PBDEs. To study the scenario in which a child would mouth on a toy flame retarded with BDE 209 alone, a plastic item containing 7% BDE 209 (w/w) was also tested. The BDE 209 amounts leached out in only 15 min were higher than the amounts leached from the CRM after the 16 h incubation. For the Belgian population, the exposure scenario from mouthing on toys containing PBDEs in amounts similar to the REACH threshold was found to be lower than the exposure from mother's milk, but higher than the exposure through diet or even dust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dust
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Flame Retardants
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Milk, Human
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mouth
  • Play and Playthings
  • Saliva
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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