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Environ Int. 2018 Mar;112:41-48. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.12.009. Epub 2017 Dec 13.

Organophosphate flame retardants in dust collected from United States fire stations.

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School of Public Health, University of California, 50 University Hall, Berkeley, CA, USA. Electronic address:
School of Public Health, University of California, 50 University Hall, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, 700 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Biomonitoring Resource Center, Commonweal, 451 Mesa Road, Bolinas, CA, USA.


Firefighters are exposed to chemicals during fire events and we previously demonstrated that fire station dust has high levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). In conducting the Fire Station Dust Study, we sought to further characterize the chemicals to which firefighters could be exposed - measuring the emerging class of phosphorous-containing flame retardants (PFRs) in fire stations, for the first time, as well as PBDEs. Dust samples from 26 fire stations in five states were collected from vacuum-cleaner bags and analyzed for PFRs and PBDEs. PFR concentrations were found to be on the same order of magnitude as PBDE concentrations (maximum PFR: 218,000ng/g; maximum PBDE: 351,000ng/g). Median concentrations of tri-n-butyl phosphate (TNBP), tris (2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP), and tris(1,3-dichloroisopropyl)phosphate (TDCIPP) in dust from fire stations were higher than those previously reported in homes and other occupational settings around the world. Total PFR levels did not vary significantly among states. Levels of TDCIPP were higher in stations where vacuum cleaners were used to clean surfaces other than the floor. PBDE levels were comparable to those found in our previous study of 20 California fire stations and much higher than levels in California residences. PFR and PBDE levels in fire station dust are higher than in other occupational and residential settings, underscoring the need to identify and control sources of this contamination.

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