Design and performance evaluation of a medium flow sampler for airborne brominated flame retardants (BFRs).
ABSTRACT Brominated flame retardants (BFRs), including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), have emerged as important and ubiquitous environmental pollutants, and there is a need to accurately measure airborne levels of these chemicals in both indoor and outdoor applications. We review and suggest performance criteria for BFR sampling systems, and then present the design of a new medium flow active sampler. The sampler uses a PTFE filter (47 mm, 1 microm pore size) in front of a polyurethane foam (PUF) adsorbent plug (22 mm dia, 76 mm length) with a nominal flow rate of 15 L min(-1) and a sampling period of one week, giving a sampling volume of 150 m(3). The sampler was evaluated using co-located systems to test precision, backup PUFs to test breakthrough, and distributed volume sampling to test linearity. Field experiments were conducted in five commercial buildings, one residence and outdoors at an urban site. A total of 20 BDE congeners were quantified. After appropriate cleaning of the PUF adsorbent, blank levels were negligible. Method detection limits (MDLs) were sufficiently low to quantify BDE congeners 17, 28, 71, 47, 100 and 99 in ambient air, and more than adequate to quantify these and other congeners in indoor air, where levels are typically much higher. The relative absolute deviation (RAD), based on distributed volume samples, ranged from 21% (BDE-71) to 81% (BDE-75) for indoor samples, and was somewhat higher for ambient samples. Only minimal breakthrough was detected in back-up samples, and over 80% of the samples had very low or negligible breakthrough. Humidity did not influence sampler performance. Overall, the medium-flow sampler can accurately measure PBDEs over a wide range of concentrations and applications.