Extent and mechanisms of brominated flame retardant emissions from waste soft furnishings and fabrics: A critical review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Use of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in soft furnishings has occurred for over thirty years with the phase out of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) only relatively recently begun. As products treated with BFRs reach the end of their lifecycle they enter the waste stream, thereby constituting an important and increasing reservoir of these chemicals. This review highlights the dearth of data on the extent and potential mechanisms of BFR emissions from waste soft furnishings. However, insights into what may occur are provided by scrutiny of the larger (though still incomplete) database related to BFR emissions from electronic waste (e-waste). In many countries, municipal landfills have historically been the primary disposal method of waste consumer products and therefore represent a substantial reservoir of BFRs. Published data for BFR emissions to both air and water from landfill and other waste disposal routes are collated, presented and reviewed. Reported concentrations of PBDEs in landfill leachate range considerably from <1ngL-1 to 133,000ngσPBDEL-1. In addition to direct migration of BFRs from waste materials; there is evidence that some higher brominated flame retardants are able to undergo degradation and debromination during waste treatment, that in some instances may lead to the formation of more toxic and bioavailable compounds. We propose that waste soft furnishings be treated with the same concern as e-waste, given its potential as a reservoir and source of environmental contamination with BFRs.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-175
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date18 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • Brominated flame retardants, Hexabromocyclododecane, Landfill, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, Tetrabromobisphenol-A, Waste soft furnishings

ASJC Scopus subject areas