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Air sampling of flame retardants based on the use of mixed-bed sorption tubes—a validation study

Abstract

An analytical methodology using automatic thermal desorption and gas chromatography mass spectrometry analysis was optimized and validated for simultaneous determination of a set of components from three different flame retardant chemical classes: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (PBDE-28, PBDE-47, PBDE-66, PBDE-85, PBDE-99, PBDE-100), organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs) (tributyl phosphate, tripropyl phosphate, tris(2-chloroethyl)phosphate-, tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, tris(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate, triphenyl phosphate, tris(2-chloro-1-methylethyl) phosphate and tricresylphosphate), and “novel” brominated flame retardants (NBFRs) (pentabromotoluene, 2,3,4,5,6-pentabromoethylbenzene, (2,3-dibromopropyl) (2,4,6-tribromophenyl) ether, hexabromobenzene, and 2-ethylhexyl 2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate) in air. The methodology is based on low volume active air sampling of gaseous and particulate air fractions on mixed-bed (polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)/Tenax TA) sorption tubes. The optimized method provides recoveries >88 %; a limit of detection in the range of 6–25 pg m−3 for PBDEs, 6–171 pg m−3 for PFRs, and 7–41 pg m−3 for NBFRs; a linearity greater than 0.996; and a repeatability of less than 10 % for all studied compounds. The optimized method was compared with a standard method using active air sampling on XAD-2 sorbent material, followed by liquid extraction. On the one hand, the PDMS/Tenax TA method shows comparable results at longer sampling time conditions (e.g., indoor air sampling, personal air sampling). On the other hand, at shorter sampling time conditions (e.g., sampling from emission test chambers), the optimized method detects up to three times higher concentrations and identifies more flame retardant compounds compared to the standard method based on XAD-2 loading.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Environment, Nature and Energy Department of the Flemish Government and the “Inflame” project, funded by the 7th EU Framework Programme (contract 164600) under the Theme People-2010-ITN.

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Correspondence to Borislav Lazarov.

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Responsible editor: Constantini Samara

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Lazarov, B., Swinnen, R., Spruyt, M. et al. Air sampling of flame retardants based on the use of mixed-bed sorption tubes—a validation study. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 18221–18229 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-015-5028-z

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Keywords

  • Flame retardants
  • Air monitoring
  • Thermal desorption
  • Mixed-bed sampling
  • GC/MS
  • Indoor environment