Impact of Legislation on Brominated Flame Retardant Concentrations in UK Indoor and Outdoor Environments: Evidence for Declining Indoor Emissions of Some Legacy BFRs

Yulong Ma*, William A. Stubbings, Jingxi Jin, Reginald Cline-Cole, Mohamed Abou-Elwafa Abdallah, Stuart Harrad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD), and novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs) were measured in indoor dust, indoor air, and outdoor air in Birmingham, UK. Concentrations of ΣBFRs ranged from 490 to 89,000 ng/g, 46–14,000 pg/m3, and 22–11,000 pg/m3, respectively, in UK indoor dust, indoor air, and outdoor air. BDE-209 and decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) were the main contributors. The maximum concentration of DBDPE (10,000 pg/m3) in outdoor air is the highest reported anywhere to date. In contrast with previous studies of outdoor air in Birmingham, we observed significant correlations between concentrations of tri- to hepta-BDEs and HBCDD and temperature. This may suggest that primary emissions from ongoing use of these BFRs have diminished and that secondary emissions (e.g., evaporation from soil) are now a potentially major source of these BFRs in outdoor air. Conversely, the lack of significant correlations between temperature and concentrations of BDE-209 and DBDPE may indicate that ongoing primary emissions from indoor sources remain important for these BFRs. Further research to clarify the relative importance of primary and secondary sources of BFRs to outdoor air is required. Comparison with earlier studies in Birmingham reveals significant (p < 0.05) declines in concentrations of legacy BFRs, but significant increases for NBFRs over the past decade. While there appear minimal health burdens from BFR exposure for UK adults, dust ingestion of BDE-209 may pose a significant risk for UK toddlers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4237-4246
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume58
Issue number9
Early online date22 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments
We acknowledge the University of Birmingham gratefully for the Global Challenges PhD Scholarship granted to Yulong Ma.

Keywords

  • HBCDD
  • human exposure
  • deca-BDE
  • ambient air
  • NBFRs
  • house dust

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