Characterizing the sorption of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) to cotton and polyester fabrics under controlled conditions

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Cotton and polyester, physically and chemically different fabrics, were characterized for sorption of gas-phase polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Scanning electron microscopic (SEM) images and BET specific surface area (BET-SSA) analysis showed cotton's high microsurface area; NMR analysis showed richness of hexose- and aromatic-carbon in cotton and polyester, respectively. Cotton and polyester sorbed similar concentrations of gas-phase PBDEs in chamber studies, when normalized to planar surface area. However, polyester concentrations were 20-50 times greater than cotton when normalized to BET-SSA, greater than the 10 times difference in BET-SSA. The difference in sorption between cotton and polyester is hypothesized to be due to 'dilution' due to cotton's large BET-SSA and/or greater affinity of PBDEs for aromatic-rich polyester. Similar fabric-air area normalized distribution coefficients (K'D, 10(3) to 10(4)m) for cotton and polyester support air-side controlled uptake under non-equilibrium conditions. K'D values imply that 1m(2) of cotton or polyester fabrics would sorb gas-phase PBDEs present in 10(3) to 10(4)m(3) of equivalent air volume at room temperature over one week, assuming similar air flow conditions. Sorption of PBDEs to fabrics has implications for their fate indoors and human exposure.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date29 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016