The levels of eight polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners, and six novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs) were determined in human milk collected from Beijing, China in 2014. The tested 111 samples were collected from 37 mothers, and each donor provided one milk sample per month for 3 months after childbirth. Levels of ∑PBDEs (total tri- to deca-BDEs) were in the range of 0.288 to 22.2 ng g lw (lipid weight). BDE-209, with a median level of 2.2 ng g lw, was the predominant congener. Decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE), as an NBFR and a substitute for deca-BDE, was found to be the most abundant BFR in all tested human milk (median:5.96 ng g lw). This result might suggest that the predominantly consumed BFRs in China have changed from PBDEs to PBDE substitutes. Additionally, a comparison to our previous studies conducted in 2005 and 2011 revealed that levels of tri- to hepta-BDEs showed significant reduction from 2005 to 2014, whereas levels of BDE-209 showed no significant variation from 2011 to 2014. Temporal trends of BFR levels over the three months of lactation were also investigated, and no significant changes were found in concentration with time over the three months lactation. For nursing infants up to 6 months old, the median lower bound of daily BFR intakes via human milk ingestion ranged from zero for 2,3-dibromopropyl-2,4,6-tribromophenyl ether (DPTE) and 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)-ethane (BTBPE) to 18.7 ng kg bodyweight day for DBDPE. Although the daily dietary BFR intake for nursing infants was found to be much higher than that for adults, the risk assessment evaluated by the margin of exposure (MOE) approach revealed that dietary BFR intake for nursing infants was unlikely to pose significant health risks.
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