A review of chamber experiments for determining specific emission rates and investigating migration pathways of flame retardants

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The widespread use of flame retardants (FRs) in indoor products has led to their ubiquitous distribution within indoor microenvironments with many studies reporting concentrations in indoor air and dust. Little information is available however on emission of these compounds to air, particularly the measurement of specific emission rates (SERs), or the migration pathways leading to dust contamination. Such knowledge gaps hamper efforts to develop understanding of human exposure. This review summarizes published data on SERs of the following FRs released from treated products: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs), tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA), novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs) and organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs), including a brief discussion of the methods used to derive these SERs. Also reviewed are published studies that utilize emission chambers for investigations/measurements of mass transfer of FRs to dust, discussing the chamber configurations and methods used for these experiments. A brief review of studies investigating correlations between concentrations detected in indoor air/dust and possible sources in the microenvironment is included along with efforts to model contamination of indoor environments. Critical analysis of the literature reveals that the major limitations with utilizing chambers to derive SERs for FRs arise due to the physicochemical properties of FRs. In particular, increased partitioning to chamber surfaces, airborne particles and dust, causes loss through "sink" effects and results in long times to reach steady state conditions inside the chamber. The limitations of chamber experiments are discussed as well as their potential for filling gaps in knowledge in this area.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-55
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Early online date11 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014