BSEF response to study “Assessing Indoor Dust Interference with Human Nuclear Hormone Receptors in Cell-Based Luciferase Reporter Assays”
25 May 2021
On April 14 2021, the study ‘Assessing Indoor Dust Interference with Human Nuclear Hormone Receptors in Cell-Based Luciferase Reporter Assays’ was published in Environmental Health Perspectives by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Researchers collected dust samples from 46 rooms at a U.S. university and exposed human cells to those samples. They measured the cells’ hormonal activities in relation to concentrations of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), organophosphate esters (OPEs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The results suggests chemicals in dust may cause a variety of negative human health effects.
BSEF asked toxicology experts review the paper with respect to conclusions on flame retardants and consider it’s implications. They noted how the researchers used pure cell cultures and pure chemical doses at sufficient concentrations to observe the binding effect. Although they found this to be an interesting approach they were quick to point out “the outcomes are not readily extended to real world settings where chemical concentrations are orders of magnitude lower and exposures to the types of human cells may never happen”. Their conclusions echoed what the authors themselves recognized regarding the lack of a causal link as they stated:
“Acknowledging some level of uncertainty, high-throughput chemical screening data are still useful for understanding large patterns in the types of chemicals contributing to bioactivities in complex environmental mixtures. Although a causal link between cell-based assays and human health eﬀects has not been determined, the assays are useful for identifying key chemical characteristics that indicate potential endocrine-disrupting activity, and some studies have found that results from in vitro assays of well-studied chemicals accurately reﬂect known health eﬀects (La Merrill et al. 2020; Rotroﬀ et al. 2013; Schenk et al. 2010).”
Flame retardants are important plastic additives that increase reduce fires and increase public safety. As Responsible Care ® companies, flame retardant manufacturers are constantly reviewing the latest science to stay current and ensure product safety in use. These chemistries are strictly regulated and regularly reviewed by regulatory authorities.
About BSEF – The International Bromine Council
BSEF – the International Bromine Council, is the global representative body for bromine producers and producers of bromine technologies. Originally founded in 1997, BSEF works to foster knowledge on the societal benefits of bromine and its applications. The members of BSEF are Albemarle Corporation, ICL Industrial Products, Lanxess and Tosoh.
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 Assessing Indoor Dust Interference with Human Nuclear Hormone Receptors in Cell-Based Luciferase Reporter Assays Anna S. Young, Thomas Zoeller, Russ Hauser, Tamarra James-Todd, Brent A. Coull, Peter A. Behnisch, Abraham Brouwer, Hongkai Zhu, Kurunthachalam Kannan, and Joseph G. Allen Published:14 April 2021CID: 047010 https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP8054