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Scientific Opinion on Hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDDs) in Food


Panel members at the time of adoption

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


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.