Scientific Opinion on Hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDDs) in Food


Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain
EFSA Journal
EFSA Journal 2011;9(7):2296 [118 pp.].
Panel Members
Jan Alexander, Diane Benford, Alan Boobis, Sandra Ceccatelli, Bruce Cottrill, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Alessandro Di Domenico, Daniel Doerge, Eugenia Dogliotti, Lutz Edler, Peter Farmer, Metka Filipič, Johanna Fink-Gremmels, Peter Fürst, Thierry Guerin, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Miroslav Machala, Antonio Mutti, Martin Rose, Josef Schlatter and Rolaf van Leeuwen

The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on Brominated Flame Retardants in Food: Åke Bergman, Alan Boobis, Sandra Ceccatelli, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Metka Filipič, Peter Fürst, Niklas Johansson, Helle Knutsen, Miroslav Machala, Franco Merletti, Olaf Päpke, Dieter Schrenk, Rolaf Van Leeuwen, Stefan Van Leeuwen and Marco Zeilmaker for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion and the hearing expert: Bas Bokkers, and EFSA staff: Alessandro Carletti, Gina Cioacata, Luisa Ramos Bordajandi and Elena Scaravelli for the support provided to this scientific opinion. The CONTAM Panel acknowledges all the European countries that provided HBCDDs occurrence data in food and supported the consumption data collection for the Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database.

Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel
On request from
European Commission
Question Number
5 July 2011
Published in the EFSA Journal
26 July 2011
Last Updated
28 July 2011. This version replaces the previous one/s.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy

EFSA was asked by the European Commission to deliver a scientific opinion on hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDDs) in food. HBCDDs are additive flame retardants primarily used in expanded and extruded polystyrene applied as construction and packing materials, and in textiles. Technical HBCDD predominantly consists of three stereoisomers (α-, β- and γ-HBCDD). Also δ- and ε-HBCDD may be present but at very low concentrations. HBCDDs are present in the environment and likewise in biota and in food and feed. Data from the analysis of HBCDDs in 1,914 food samples were provided to EFSA by seven European countries, covering the period from 2000 to 2010. The Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) selected α-, β- and γ-HBCDD to be of primary interest. Since all toxicity studies were carried out with technical HBCDD, a risk assessment of individual stereoisomers was not possible. Main targets were the liver, thyroid hormone homeostasis and the reproductive, nervous and immune systems. HBCDDs are not genotoxic. The CONTAM Panel identified neurodevelopmental effects on behaviour as the critical endpoint, and derived a benchmark dose lower confidence limit for a benchmark response of 10 % (BMDL10) of 0.79 mg/kg body weight. Due to the limitations and uncertainties in the current data base, the CONTAM Panel concluded that it was inappropriate to use this BMDL to establish a health based guidance value, and instead used a margin of exposure (MOE) approach for the health risk assessment of HBCDDs. Since elimination characteristics of HBCDDs in animals and humans differ, the Panel used the body burden as starting point for the MOE approach. The CONTAM Panel concluded that current dietary exposure to HBCDDs in the European Union does not raise a health concern. Also additional exposure, particularly of young children, to HBCDDs from house dust is unlikely to raise a health concern.

Hexabromocyclododecanes, HBCDDs, occurrence, food, toxicology, human exposure, risk assessment
Print on demand
Number of Pages