A large number of brominated chemicals are used as flame retardants. Most PBDE congeners used as flame retardants are persistent compounds, with the exception that DecaBDE is a semipersistent compound in humans. PBDEs are ubiquitous environmental contaminants found in wildlife at high trophic levels of low ppm concentrations. PBDEs, including BDE-209 are in general present in human subjects at low ppb (<10 ppb) concentration. 2,2',4,4',5,5'-HexaBDE, 2,2',3,4,4',5,5'-heptaBDE and decaBDE are elevated in humans who work as electronic or computer technicians and are occupationally exposed. BDE-209 is bioavailable but it has a much shorter half-life in humans than BDE-183.

In general, the level of PBDEs in human samples is significantly lower than the levels of the most persistent PCB congeners. On the other hand, PBDE levels are increasing in some populations while the levels of other environmental contaminants including dioxin and PCBs are decreasing. Therefore, the implications and impact of environmental PBDEs on human and environmental health deserve further study.

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