Polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDE), used as flame retardants, are named as priority substances in the Directive 2000/60/EC of the European parliament and of the council establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy. An annual average environmental quality standard (EQS) for inland surface waters of 0.0005 mu g/L (0.0002 mu g/L for other surface waters) for PBDE congeners involved in the technical penta-PBDE mixtures containing PBDE with five bromine atoms has been established. The directives focus especially on the congeners PBDE 28, 47, 99, 100, 153 and 154 contained in the penta-PBDE mixture. Up to now, no reference measurement procedures have been established reaching the limits of quantification (LOQs) and the associated uncertainties as defined in the directives with results traceable to the SI. Within a recent European project on metrology, different approaches for the traceable quantification of PBDE, based on liquid/liquid or solid phase extraction followed by the detection with gas chromatography coupled to either inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry or triple quadrupole mass spectrometry, were investigated and the related LOQs and expanded uncertainties of the results were compared. A complete uncertainty budget for each method was estimated according to the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM). All presented analytical procedures can serve as reference measurement procedures regarding the LOQs and their associated expanded uncertainties for monitoring the six priority PBDEs named above. LOQs as low as 0.026 ng/kg with an associated expanded uncertainty of 0.002 ng/kg could be achieved (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.