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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Oct 15;40(20):6241-6.

Fate, partitioning, and mass loading of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) during the treatment processing of municipal sewage.

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  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, Ontario, N9B 3P4 Canada.


Sewage treatment plant (STP) effluents are likely a major source of contamination for PBDEs, especially in the receiving water bodies of local aquatic environments surrounding the location of these discharges. Congeners of the pentaBDE mixture, 2,2,',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE47), 2,2,',4,4',5-pentabromodiphenyl ether (BDE99), 2,2,',4,4',6-pentabromodiphenyl ether (BDE100), 2,2,',4,4',5,5'-hexabromodiphenyl ether (BDE153), and 2,2,',4,4',5,6'-hexabromodiphenyl ether (BDE154), are of great environmental concern in North America due to their persistence, potential for bioaccumulation, and >97% use of the global production of the mixture in the region. Detailed characterization of the distribution of eight PBDE congeners (2,4,4'-tribromoDE (BDE28) and BDE47, 99, 100, 138, 153, 154, and 183) was carried out at five sites along the treatment process at an activated sludge-type secondary treatment municipal STP facility. PentaBDE mixture congeners, sigma5PBDE (sum of BDE47, 99, 100, 153, and 154) accounted for >98% of the total (sigma 8) PBDE concentration at all sites, with over 80% of the composition being BDE47 and BDE99. Presence of dissolved organic matter affected the mobility of PBDEs during the initial stages of the treatment process. About 9% of the influent mass of sigma5PBDE to the facility is estimated to be discharged into the Little River (leading to the Detroit River) with the final effluent, resulting in an estimated mass loading of approximately 0.7 kg/year. The total mass loading of sigma5PBDE to the Detroit River is expected to be much larger as effluent from this facility accounts for <10% of the total STP discharges to the river.

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