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Brominated Flame-Retardants (BFRs) – Residual Trends in Sewage Sludge

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Brominated flame-retardants (BFRs) exhibit environmental stabilities and accumulation potentials in humans and wildlife similar to previously banned organohalogens, e. g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). BFRs, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBP-A)) are considered endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC), known to interfere with thyroid hormone homeostasis. These BFRs have also been increasingly detected in the environment. Many BFRs are hydrophobic and once associated with waste streams concentrate within wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) sludge. With increasing frequency this sludge (biosolid) is being land-applied, providing an additional opportunity for BFR residuals to enter the environment. In order to determine potential BFR transfers to and trends at a WWTP, biosolids were collected over a six-year period. These were first screened for BFRs by monitoring for bromine-containing compounds by gas chromatography with selective ion monitoring mass spectrometry (GC SIM-MS) in the electron capture negative ionization (ECNI) mode. Samples were then reanalyzed by electron ionization (EI) GCMS, producing full scan mass spectra. Brominated compounds previously identified by GC SIM-MS were then positively identified by spectra library matching of the full scan EI spectra. BFRs (PBDEs, HBCD and BTBPE (1,2-bis (2,4,6-tribromophenoxy) ethane)) were positively identified in the sample set, ranging >100 mg/kg, dry weight. Different trends in concentration for each group of BFRs were also observed which might be related to recent alterations in BFR production (production ban of penta- and octa-PBDEs end of 2004) or changes in local plastics manufacturing during the six-year collection period. Hence, such data may be of value in respect to evaluating risks associated with the beneficial re-use of sludges, as well as in improving wastewater treatment approaches.
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Keywords: (1,2-bis (2,4,6-tribromophenoxy) Ethane)); BTBPE; Biosolids; Brominated Flame-retardants; HBCD; Hexabromocyclododecane; PBDEs; Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-07-29

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