Concentrations and Emissions of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers from US Houses and Garages

Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2029, USA.
Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.33). 05/2009; 43(8):2693-700. DOI: 10.1021/es8029957
Source: PubMed


Concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and other brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have been rapidly increasing in fish, birds, sediments, indoor environments, and humans, but emission sources and exposure pathways of these pollutants remain poorly understood. The many BFR-containing materials in buildings constitute a large reservoir of these compounds, and in-use releases from this reservoir may be a significant environmental source. To estimate in-use releases from building materials and contents in residences, we monitored 12 houses and garages in two seasons and combined measurements of BFRs in air and settled dust, air exchange rates, and other information in an approach that utilized the building as a "natural" test chamber. Results were scaled to provide a first estimate of aggregate emission rates from U.S. houses. PBDE releases total about 4 microg h(-1) per house or 20 ng m(-2) h(-1), and U.S. houses and garages collectively release about 4100 kg y(-1). Most of these releases are settled floor dust, but about 20% are released directly to the ambient environment via airborne vapor and particulate matter. These screening-level estimates are subject to considerable uncertainty, but they have an advantage in that they reflect real-world conditions based on mass balance calculations.

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