[Pharmwaste] New Flame Retardant Levels Rising Rapidly

DeBiasi, Deborah (DEQ) Deborah.DeBiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Fri Dec 9 11:35:52 EST 2011



December 7, 2011 | Latest News

New Flame Retardant Levels Rising Rapidly

Air Pollution: Air concentrations of the brominated chemicals doubled
every 13 months in recent years in Cleveland and Chicago

By Sara Peach <http://cen.acs.org/static/about/staff_landing.html> 




Flame Out 

The new flame retardants TBB and TBPH have started replacing
polybrominated diphenylethers. 

Credit: Environ. Sci. Technol.

Created to replace older chemicals thought to pose an environmental
threat, new flame retardants have become widespread
s.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es203251f>  in the air near the Great Lakes,
according to a new report (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 
s.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es203251f> ).

Since the 1970s, manufacturers have used retardants to reduce fire risk
in consumer products such as upholstered furniture, electronics, and
clothing. Commonly used flame retardants called polybrominated
diphenylethers (PBDEs) volatilize from those products and escape into
the environment, where they may pose health and environmental hazards.

In 2004, the flame-retardant industry began replacing PBDEs with new
formulations including Firemaster 550
D&vgnextfmt=default>  and Firemaster BZ-54
D&vgnextfmt=default> , which contain
2-ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) and
bis(2-ethylhexyl)-tetrabromophthalate (TBPH). But these chemicals could
also have environmental risks: Research has suggested that the compounds
can build up in fish and damage their DNA.

So Ronald A. Hites <http://hites.chem.indiana.edu/>  of Indiana
University, Bloomington <http://www.iub.edu/> , and his colleagues
wanted to know if TBB and TBPH had started to accumulate in the
environment. The researchers analyzed 507 air samples collected by the 
Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network
<http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/monitoring/air2/index.html> , a U.S.-Canada
program that monitors air quality in the Great Lakes region. Hites and
his team used gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to measure levels of
the two chemicals in samples collected between 2008 and 2010. They
detected TBB and TBPH in the vast majority of samples from Chicago and
Cleveland, where levels of the compounds doubled approximately every 13
months. They also found the compounds in about half of air samples from
four rural sites. At those sites, levels doubled every 19 months.

The flame retardants even reached remote Eagle Harbor in Michigan's
Upper Peninsula, which suggests to Hites that winds transport the
chemicals over hundreds of miles. He points out that scientists don't
know much about these chemicals' environmental fate. They may degrade
naturally in the environment, he says, but they also may not.


Chemical & Engineering News 

ISSN 0009-2347 

Copyright (c) 2011American Chemical Society 


Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email:   Deborah.DeBiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov <http://www.deq.virginia.gov/> 
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit and Compliance Assistance Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) Program
PPCPs, EDCs, and Microconstituents 

Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028      FAX:      804-698-4032


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