The potential for exposure of employees to polybrominated dibenzofurans (PBDFs) and dibenzo-p-dioxins (PBDDs) during extrusion blending of resins containing decabromodiphenyl ether was established through previous air monitoring (area samples) and biomonitoring studies. The findings presented herein are further biomonitoring results for 42 employees and immunological tests for exposed and referent employees. Among potentially exposed men, 2,3,7,8-TBDF and 2,3,7,8-TBDD concentrations in blood lipid ranged from non-detectable to 112 parts per trillion (ppt) and from non-detectable to 478 ppt respectively. Biomonitoring results correlated well with assignments in the extruder work area when adjusted for process changes and engineering improvements and provided biological half life estimates of between 1.1 and 1.9 years for 2,3,7,8-TBDF and between 2.9 and 10.8 years for 2,3,7,8-TBDD. Results for 16 measures of the immune system were examined in relation to exposure (exposed v referent group) and in relation to the biomonitoring data. Some individual trends in immunological parameters with exposure and covariates such as age and cigarette smoking were found (for example, an increase in complement C4 with increasing concentrations of PBDFs and PBDDs, increased lymphocyte subpopulation counts with cigarette smoking); however, the overall clinical assessment was that the immune system of exposed employees was not adversely impacted at these burdens of PBDFs and PBDDs.
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