Polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans, and biphenyls: Inclusion in the toxicity equivalency factor concept for dioxin-like compounds

Martin van den Berg, Michael S. Denison, Linda S. Birnbaum, Michael J. DeVito, Heidelore Fiedler, Jerzy Falandysz, Martin Rose, Dieter Schrenk, Stephen Safe, Chiharu Tohyama, Angelika Tritscher, Mats Tysklind, Richard E. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


In 2011, a joint World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) expert consultation took place, during which the possible inclusion of brominated analogues of the dioxin-like compounds in the WHO Toxicity Equivalency Factor (TEF) scheme was evaluated. The expert panel concluded that polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PBDDs), dibenzofurans (PBDFs), and some dioxin-like biphenyls (dl-PBBs) may contribute significantly in daily human background exposure to the total dioxin toxic equivalencies (TEQs). These compounds are also commonly found in the aquatic environment. Available data for fish toxicity were evaluated for possible inclusion in the WHO-UNEP TEF scheme (van den Berg et al., 1998). Because of the limited database, it was decided not to derive specific WHO-UNEP TEFs for fish, but for ecotoxicological risk assessment, the use of specific relative effect potencies (REPs) from fish embryo assays is recommended. Based on the limited mammalian REP database for these brominated compounds, it was concluded that sufficient differentiation from the present TEF values of the chlorinated analogues (van den Berg et al., 2006) was not possible. However, the REPs for PBDDs, PBDFs, and non-ortho dl-PBBs in mammals closely follow those of the chlorinated analogues, at least within one order of magnitude. Therefore, the use of similar interim TEF values for brominated and chlorinated congeners for human risk assessment is recommended, pending more detailed information in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-208
Number of pages12
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Biomarkers
  • Dioxin
  • Halogenated hydrocarbon
  • Persistent organic chemicals
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Regulatory/policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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