This project will provide important information on dietary vs. workplace dust exposure to PBDEs by comparing blood levels between two high-exposures but distinct occupations - E-waste recycling and commercial fishing. Added relevance of the project comes from addressing a strategic goal outlined in the National Occupational Research Agenda for improving the health of commercial fishermen by measuring exposures to harmful chemicals of marine origin.
Domestic electronic waste (E-waste) recycling is a rapidly expanding occupation. However, it is unclear to what extent occupational exposure to PBDEs and the more toxic hydroxy analogues is occurring in E-waste workers and whether environmental as opposed to biological monitoring accurately reflects exposure. Confounding variables such as biotransformation and multiple exposure pathways within and outside the workplace hinder assessments of occupational exposure. Therefore, the goal of this project is to better understand the importance of occupational exposure to current-use polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), their hydroxy- and methoxy PBDE analogues and non-PBDE flame retardants. We will recruit a total of 120 volunteers from the Puget Sound region, 40 of which are commercial or subsistence fisherman, 40 electronic recycling workers and 40 office workers from professions requiring traditional 8-hr indoor workdays. Dietary information will collected, including seafood consumption, during a 14-day period and then each volunteer will be asked to donate a blood sample for chemical analysis of more than 90 different PBDEs and structurally related compounds. We will also collect dust samples from each volunteer's place of work, which will also be analyzed for PBDE content. Formal statistical analysis of the analytical results will be conducted to determine whether a correlation exists in the plasma concentrations of individual PBDEs or the sum of the various organobromine chemical classes identified and PBDE content of workplace dust or dietary habits.