BACKGROUND: A previous study from our laboratory showed that polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were metabolized to hydroxylated PBDEs (HO-PBDEs) in mice and that para-HO-PBDEs were the most abundant and, potentially, the most toxic metabolites. OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to determine the concentrations of HO-PBDEs in blood from pregnant women, who had not been intentionally or occupationally exposed to these flame retardants, and from their newborn babies. METHODS: Twenty human blood samples were obtained from a hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, and analyzed for both PBDEs and HO-PBDEs using electron-capture negative-ionization gas chromatographic mass spectrometry. RESULTS: The metabolite pattern of HO-PBDEs in human blood was quite different from that found in mice; 5-HO-BDE-47 and 6-HO-BDE-47 were the most abundant metabolites of BDE-47, and 5'-HO-BDE-99 and 6'-HO-BDE-99 were the most abundant metabolites of BDE-99. The relative concentrations between precursor and corresponding metabolites indicated that BDE-99 was more likely to be metabolized than BDE-47 and BDE-100. In addition, three bromophenols were also detected as products of the cleavage of the diphenyl ether bond. The ratio of total hydroxylated metabolites relative to their PBDE precursors ranged from 0.10 to 2.8, indicating that hydroxylated metabolites of PBDEs were accumulated in human blood. CONCLUSIONS: The quite different PBDE metabolite pattern observed in humans versus mice indicates that different enzymes might be involved in the metabolic process. Although the levels of HO-PBDE metabolites found in human blood were low, these metabolites seemed to be accumulating.
At 14: 28 on 12 May 2008, Sichuan Province of China suffered a devastating earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale with more than 80 000 human lives lost and millions displaced. With inadequate shelter, poor access to health services, and disrupted ecology, the survivors were at enormous risk of infectious disease outbreaks. This work, believed to be unprecedented, was carried out to contain a possible outbreak through onsite monitoring of airborne biological agents in the high-risk areas. In such a mission, a mobile laboratory was developed using a customized vehicle along with state-of-art bioaerosol and molecular equipment and tools, and deployed to Sichuan 11 days after the earthquake. Using a high volume bioaerosol sampler (RCS High Flow) and Button Inhalable Aerosol Sampler equipped with gelatin filters, a total of 55 air samples, among which are 28 filter samples, were collected from rubble, medical centers, and camps of refugees, troops and rescue workers between 23 May and 9 June, 2008. After pre-treatment of the air samples, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), gel electrophoresis, limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) assay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were applied to detect infectious agents and to quantify environmental toxins and allergens. The results revealed that, while high levels of endotoxin (180 similar to 975 ng/m(3)) and (1,3)-beta-D-glucans (11 similar to 100 ng/m(3)) were observed, infectious agents such as Bacillus anthracis, Bordetella pertussis, Neisseria meningitidis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, influenza A virus, bird flu virus (H5N1), enteric viruses, and Meningococcal meningitis were found below their detection limits. The total bacterial concentrations were found to range from 250 to 2.5 x 10(5) DNA copies/L. Aspergillus fumigatus (Asp f 1) and dust mite allergens (Der p 1 and Der f 1) were also found below their detection limits.