Status of Organophosphate Esters in the Environment of Developing Countries and Their Impact on Human Health

  • Nadeem AliEmail author
  • Muhammad Imtiaz Rashid
  • Nabil A. Alhakamy
  • Hussain Mohammad Salem Ali Albar
  • Khurram Shahzad
  • Syed Ali Musstjab Akber Shah Eqani
Part of the Soil Biology book series (SOILBIOL, volume 57)


The presence of organophosphate ester (OPEs) in the environment of developing countries has been reviewed in the current chapter. The strict regulations about the manufacturing and usage of flame retardants (FRs) like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) lead to the increased production and use of OPEs as FRs and plasticizers to satisfy the fire and safety guidelines. These OPEs are assumed to be environmentally safe but recent research focused on their environmental presence have raised questions on their use and impact on human health. In this chapter, data is compiled on the occurrence of OPEs in different environmental matrices including air, dust, food, water, humans, etc., from developing countries. In the end, the investigation gaps were figured out with commendations for future research work.


Organophosphate esters Developing countries Indoor dust Air Water Soil Humans 


  1. Abdallah MAE, Covaci A (2014) Organophosphate flame retardants in indoor dust from Egypt: implications for human exposure. Environ Sci Technol 48:4782–4789PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ali N, Van den Eede N, Dirtu AC, Neels H, Covaci A (2012) Assessment of human exposure to indoor organic contaminants in Pakistan. Indoor Air 22:200–211PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Ali N, Ali L, Mehdi T, Dirtu A, Al–Shammari F, Neels H (2013) Levels and profiles of organochlorines and flame retardants in car and house dust from Kuwait and Pakistan: implication for human exposure via dust ingestion. Environ Int 55:62–70PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Ali N, Mehdi T, Malik RN, Eqani SAMAS, Kamal A, Dirtu AC, Neels H, Covaci A (2014) Levels and profile of several classes of organic contaminants in matched indoor dust and serum samples from occupational settings of Pakistan. Environ Pollut 193:269–276PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Ali N, Eqani SAMAS, Ismail IMI, Malarvannan G, Kadi MW, Albar HMS, Rehan M, Covaci A (2016) Brominated and organophosphate flame retardants in indoor dust of Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: implications for human exposure. Sci Total Environ 569:269–277PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ali N, Shahzad K, Rashid MI, Shen H, Ismail IM, Eqani SA (2017) Currently used organophosphate and brominated flame retardants in the environment of China and other developing countries (2000–2016). Environ Sci Pollut Res 24:18721–18741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ali N, Ismail IM, Kadi MW, Albar HM (2018) Currently used organophosphate flame retardants determined in the settled dust of masjids and hotels of Saudi Arabia, a new insight into human health implications of dust exposure. Environ Sci Process Impacts 20:798–805PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Andresen J, Bester K (2006) Elimination of organophosphate ester flame retardants and plasticizers in drinking water purification. Water Res 40:621–629PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bi XH, Simoneit BRT, Wang ZZ, Wang XM, Sheng GY, Fu JM (2010) The major components of particles emitted during recycling of waste printed circuit boards in a typical e–waste workshop of South China. Atmos Environ 44:4440–4445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bollmann UE, Moeler A, Xie ZY, Ebinghaus R, Einax JW (2012) Occurrence and fate of organophosphorus flame retardants and plasticizers in coastal and marine surface waters. Water Res 46:531–538PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Butte W, Heinzow B (2002) Pollutants in house dust as indicators of indoor contamination. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 175:1–46PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Cao SX, Zeng XY, Song H, Li HR, Yu ZQ, Sheng GY, Fu JM (2012) Levels and distributions of organophosphate flame retardants and plasticizers in sediment from Taihu Lake, China. Environ Toxicol Chem 31:1478–1484PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Cao Z, Xu F, Covaci A, Wu M, Wang H, Yu G, Wang B, Deng S, Huang J, Wang X (2014) Distribution patterns of brominated, chlorinated, and phosphorus flame retardants with particle size in indoor and outdoor dust and implications for human exposure. Environ Sci Technol 48:8839–8846PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Carlsson H, Nilsson U, Ostman C (2000) Video display units: an emission source of the contact allergenic flame retardant triphenyl phosphate in the indoor environment. Environ Sci Technol 34:3885–3889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dirtu AC, Ali N, Van den Eede N, Neels H, Covaci A (2012) Country specific comparison for profile of chlorinated, brominated and phosphate organic contaminants in indoor dust case study for Eastern Romania, 2010. Environ Int 49:1–8PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. EFRA (2007) The European flame retardants association, market statistics. http://wwwceficefracom
  17. He CT, Zheng J, Qiao L, Chen SJ, Yang JZ, Yuan JG, Yang ZY, Mai BX (2015) Occurrence of organophosphorus flame retardants in indoor dust in multiple microenvironments of southern China and implications for human exposure. Chemosphere 133:47–52PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Hu M, Li J, Zhang B, Cui Q, Wei S, Yu H (2014) Regional distribution of halogenated organophosphate flame retardants in seawater samples from three coastal cities in China. Mar Pollut Bull 86:569–574PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Kawagoshi Y, Fukunaga I, Itoh H (1999) Distribution of organophosphoric acid trimesters between water and sediment at a sea-based solid waste disposal site. J Mater Cycles Waste Manag 1:53–61Google Scholar
  20. Khan MU, Li J, Zhang G, Malik RN (2016) First insight into the levels and distribution of flame retardants in potable water in Pakistan: an underestimated problem with an associated health risk diagnosis. Sci Total Environ 565:346–359PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kim JW, Isobe T, Chang KH, Amano A, Maneja RH, Zamora PB, Siringan FP, Tanabe S (2011a) Levels and distribution of organophosphorus flame retardants and plasticizers in fishes from Manila Bay, the Philippines. Environ Pollut 159:3653–3659PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kim JW, Ramaswamy BR, Chang KH, Isobe T, Tanabe S (2011b) Multiresidue analytical method for the determination of antimicrobials, preservatives, benzotriazole UV stabilizers, flame retardants and plasticizers in fish using ultra high performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 1218:3511–3520PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kim JW, Isobe T, Sudaryanto A, Malarvannan G, Chang KH, Muto M, Prudente M, Tanabe S (2013) Organophosphorus flame retardants in house dust from the Philippines: occurrence and assessment of human exposure. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20:812–822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kim JW, Isobe T, Muto M, Tue NM, Katsura K, Malarvannan G, Sudaryanto A, Chang KH, Prudente M, Viet PH, Takahashi S (2014) Organophosphorus flame retardants (PFRs) in human breast milk from several Asian countries. Chemosphere 116:91–97PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li J, Yu NY, Zhang BB, Jin L, Li MY, Hu MY, Zhang XW, Wei S, Yu HX (2014) Occurrence of organophosphate flame retardants in drinking water from China. Water Res 54:53–61PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Luo P, Bao LJ, Guo Y, Li SM, Zeng EY (2016) Size-dependent atmospheric deposition and inhalation exposure of particle-bound organophosphate flame retardants. J Hazard Mater 301:504–511PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ma YQ, Cui KY, Zeng F, Wen JX, Liu H, Zhu F, Ouyang GF, Luan TG, Zeng ZX (2013) Microwave-assisted extraction combined with gel permeation chromatography and silica gel cleanup followed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry for the determination of organophosphorus flame retardants and plasticizers in biological samples. Anal Chim Acta 786:47–53PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marklund A, Andersson B, Haglund P (2005) Traffic as a source of organophosphorus flame retardants and plasticizers in snow. Environ Sci Technol 39:3555–3562PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mercier F, Glorennec P, Thomas O, Bot BL (2011) Organic contamination of settled house dust, a review for exposure assessment purposes. Environ Sci Technol 45:6716–6727PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Moller A, Sturm R, Xie ZY, Cai MH, He JF, Ebinghaus R (2012) Organophosphorus flame retardants and plasticizers in airborne particles over the Northern Pacific and Indian Ocean toward the polar regions: evidence for global occurrence. Environ Sci Technol 46:3127–3134PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. Ou Y (2011) Developments of organic phosphorus flame retardant industry in China. Ind Eng Prog 30:210–215Google Scholar
  32. Paustenbach DJ, Finley BL, Long TF (1997) The critical role of house dust in understanding the hazards posed by contaminated soils. Int J Toxicol 16:339–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Qiao L, Zheng XB, Zheng J, Lei WX, Li HF, Wang MH, He CT, Chen SJ, Yuan JG, Luo XJ, Yu YJ, Yang ZY, Mai BX (2016) Analysis of human hair to assess exposure to organophosphate flame retardants: influence of hair segments and gender differences. Environ Res 148:177–183PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Stapleton HM, Klosterhaus S, Eagle S, Fuh J, Meeker JD, Blum A, Webster TF (2009) Detection of organophosphate flame retardants in furniture foam and US house dust. Environ Sci Technol 43:7490–7495PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Van der Veen I, de Boer J (2012) Phosphorus flame retardants: properties, production, environmental occurrence, toxicity and analysis. Chemosphere 88:1119–1153PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Wang X, Liu J, Yin Y (2010) The pollution status and research progress on organophosphate ester flame retardants. Prog Chem (in Chinese) 22:1983–1992Google Scholar
  37. Wang XW, He YQ, Lin L, Zeng F, Luan TG (2014) Application of fully automatic hollow fiber liquid phase microextraction to assess the distribution of organophosphate esters in the Pearl River Estuaries. Sci Total Environ 470-471:263–269PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Wei GL, Li DQ, Zhuo MN, Liao YS, Xie ZY, Guo TL, Li JJ, Zhang SY, Liang ZQ (2015) Organophosphorus flame retardants and plasticizers: sources, occurrence, toxicity and human exposure. Environ Pollut 196:29–46PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. WHO (1991) EHC 111: tri-n-butyl phosphate. World Health Organization, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  40. WHO (1997) Flame retardants: a general introduction, 192 environmental health criteria. World Health Organization, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  41. WHO (1998) Environmental health criteria 209, flame retardants: tris(chloropropyl) phosphate and tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate. World Health Organization, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  42. WHO (2000) EHC 218: flame retardants: tris(2-butoxylethyl)phosphate, tris (2-ethyl-exyl)phosphate and tetrakis (hydroxymethyl) phosphonium salts. World Health Organization, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  43. Wu M, Yu G, Cao Z, Wu D, Liu K, Deng S, Huang J, Wang B, Wang Y (2016) Characterization and human exposure assessment of organophosphate flame retardants in indoor dust from several microenvironments of Beijing, China. Chemosphere 150:465–471PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Yang FX, Ding JJ, Huang W, Xie W, Liu WP (2014) Particle size-specific distributions and preliminary exposure assessments of organophosphate flame retardants in office air particulate matter. Environ Sci Technol 48:63–70PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zeng X, Liu Z, He L, Cao S, Song H, Yu Z, Sheng G, Fu J (2015) The occurrence and removal of organophosphate ester flame retardants/plasticizers in a municipal wastewater treatment plant in the Pearl River Delta, China. J Environ Sci Health A 50:1291–1297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zheng XB, Xu FC, Chen KH, Zeng YH, Luo XJ, Chen SJ, Mai BX, Covaci A (2015) Flame retardants and organochlorines in indoor dust from several e waste recycling sites in South China: composition variations and implications for human exposure. Environ Int 78:1–7PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadeem Ali
    • 1
    Email author
  • Muhammad Imtiaz Rashid
    • 1
  • Nabil A. Alhakamy
    • 2
  • Hussain Mohammad Salem Ali Albar
    • 3
  • Khurram Shahzad
    • 1
  • Syed Ali Musstjab Akber Shah Eqani
    • 4
  1. 1.Center of Excellence in Environmental StudiesKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Pharmaceutics Department, Faculty of PharmacyKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Department of Community Health, Medical CollegeKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Health and Environment Division, Department of BiosciencesCOMSATS UniversityIslamabadPakistan

Personalised recommendations