Electronics, interior decoration and cleaning patterns affect flame retardant levels in the dust from Dutch residences

Eva J. Sugeng*, Marijke de Cock, Pim E.G. Leonards, Margot van de Bor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Consumer products such as furniture foam and electronic device casings are treated with flame retardant chemicals (FRs) to prevent the spread of fire. Many FRs are able to leach out of a product and end up in house dust. FRs in house dust can be taken up by humans through inhalation, ingestion or dermal adsorption. This study aims to identify factors in the home environment that are associated with FR levels in house dust. House dust and a wide range of data on characteristics of electronics, including age and use, interior decoration, domestic house and cleaning patterns, were collected from 50 households in the Netherlands. Decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE209) and several organophosphate flame retardants were measured in dust at detection percentages ranging from 58 to 94%, with median concentrations ranging from 32 ng/g (resorcinol-bis(diphenyl)phosphate (PBDPP)) to 825 ng/g (tris(chloropropyl)phosphate (TCIPP)). For the first time, age, hours of operation and use of the standby function of electronic devices were found to affect FR levels in dust. We found that if the total number of electronic devices purchased before 2008 increased by 1 device, BDE209 levels in house dust significantly increased by 66%. In addition, house dust from homes with carpeted floors was significantly associated with a 70–80% lower concentration of several FRs compared to homes with smooth floors (e.g., laminate). Less frequent vacuum cleaning and dusting were significantly associated with 41 to 88% higher concentrations of several FRs in dust. These associations suggest that actions such as frequent vacuum cleaning and dusting as well as different FR regulations for electronic devices affect indoor exposure levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1144-1152
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date21 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2018


  • BDE209
  • Consumer products
  • Home environment
  • House dust
  • Organophosphate flame retardants


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