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Evaluating the use of synchrotron X-ray spectroscopy in investigating brominated flame retardants in indoor dust

Abstract

Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are commonly used in consumer products and they shed off these products and eventually build up in household dust. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), in particular, are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals affecting various hormone syntheses. Portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) is the most common non-destructive method in identifying BFRs in environmental samples. However, the method is insensitive to bromine speciation. Synchrotron-based XRF has been shown to have very low detection limits (< 1 μg/g) that is suitable for detecting BFRs and can be combined with X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES) to identify the bromine species present in the household dust. Twenty indoor dust samples were collected from rural homes in Newfoundland (Canada) to assess the use of synchrotron-based techniques to identify BFRs. Synchrotron-based XRF analysis identified bromine in all the samples, with concentrations ranging from 2–19 μg/g. XANES analysis identified organic-based bromine species in several samples that are likely BFRs based on the spectral line shape. The accuracy of using XANES to identify BFRs is highly dependent on the source and size of the dust samples. Therefore, for future research, it is important to take into account the sources of dust sample and to focus on fine dust particles.

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Funding

The project was funded by the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research. The authors thank Prof. Shree Mulay, Drs. John Knight, and Cora Young for being part of the grant. The CLS is funded by the Canadian Foundation of Innovation (CFI), the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), The National Research Council (NRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Government of Saskatchewan, and the University of Saskatchewan.

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Correspondence to Atanu Sarkar.

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Blanchard, P., Babichuk, N. & Sarkar, A. Evaluating the use of synchrotron X-ray spectroscopy in investigating brominated flame retardants in indoor dust. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 42168–42174 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-10623-4

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Keywords

  • Brominated flame retardants
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers
  • Synchrotron X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy