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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Oct 15;39(20):7794-802.

Brominated flame retardants in the atmosphere of the East-Central United States.

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School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.


Air samples were collected at five sites (urban, semiurban, agricultural, and remote) from Lake Michigan through the U. S. Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico every 12 days during 2002-2003 using high-volume samplers so that we could study the spatial trends of brominated flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs), and 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)-ethane (TBE)). The mean sigmaPBDE atmospheric concentration was 100 +/- 35 pg/m3 at the Chicago site, which was 3-6 times higher than that at the other sites. The sigmaPBDE atmospheric concentrations at the Chicago site were significantly higher than previous measurements made in 1997-1999. Unlike these former measurements, BDE-209 is now relatively abundant. Lower BDEs (tri- through hex-BDEs) were detected in both the particle and the gas phases, and the partitioning of these compounds between phases was highly dependent on atmospheric temperature. Higher BDEs (hepta- through deca-BDEs) were mostly detected in the particle phase. On the basis of the congener distributions in the samples, the concentrations were divided into three groups: penta-BDEs, octa-BDEs, and deca-BDEs. Penta-BDEs were the most concentrated at the Chicago site and the least concentrated at the Louisiana site; octa-BDE concentrations were low at all of the sites; deca-BDEs were the most concentrated at the Chicago site and notably high atthe Arkansas site. High concentrations of deca-BDEs, HBCDs, and TBE at the Arkansas site suggest that manufacturing areas in southern Arkansas could be the source regions. Backward trajectories for air masses with high concentrations of deca-BDEs coming to the Arkansas site suggestthat deca-BDEs bound to particles can move long distances from source regions to nonsource regions.

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