Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) stereoisomers in U.S. food from Dallas, Texas

Arnold Schecter, David T. Szabo, James Miller, Tyra L. Gent, Noor Malik-Bass, Malte Petersen, Olaf Paepke, Justin A. Colacino, Linda S. Hynan, T. Robert Harris, Sunitha Malla, Linda S. Birnbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background: Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) is a brominated flame retardant used in polystyrene foams in thermal insulation and electrical equipment. The HBCD commercial mixture consists mainly of α, β, and γ stereoisomers. Health concerns of HBCD exposure include alterations in immune and reproductive systems, neurotoxic effects, and endocrine disruption. Stereoisomer-specific levels of HBCD have not been measured previously in U.S. food. Objectives: We measured HBCD stereoisomer levels in U.S. foods from Dallas, Texas, supermarkets. Methods: Convenience samples of commonly consumed foods were purchased from supermarkets in Dallas in 2009-2010. Food samples included a wide variety of lipid-rich foods: fish, peanut butter, poultry, pork, and beef. Thirty-six individual food samples were collected in 2010 and analyzed for α-, β-, and γ-HBCD stereoisomers using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Ten pooled food samples previously collected in 2009 for a study of total HBCD levels using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), were reanalyzed for α-, β-, and γ-HBCD stereoisomers using LC-MS/MS. Results: Of the 36 measured individual foods, 15 (42%) had detectable levels of HBCD. Median (ranges) of α- and γ-HBCD concentrations were 0.003 (< 0.005-1.307) and 0.005 (< 0.010-0.143) ng/g wet weight (ww), respectively; β-HBCD was present in three samples with a median (range) of 0.003 (< 0.005-0.019) ng/g ww. Median levels (range) for α-, β-, and γ-HBCD, in pooled samples were 0.077 (0.010-0.310), 0.008 (< 0.002-0.070), and 0.024 (0.012-0.170) ng/g ww, respectively. Conclusions: α-HBCD was detected most frequently and at highest concentrations, followed by γ-, and then β-HBCD, in food samples from Dallas, Texas. Food may be a substantial contributor to the elevated α-HBCD levels observed in humans. These data suggest that larger and more representative sampling should be conducted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1260-1264
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Dallas
  • Food
  • HBCD
  • Hexabromocyclododecane
  • Stereoisomers
  • Texas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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