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Chemosphere. 2005 May;59(7):1033-41. Epub 2005 Jan 7.

Molecular orbital studies on brominated diphenyl ethers. Part I--conformational properties.

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Department of Applied Chemistry, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, 100871 Beijing, PR China.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widely used as additive flame retardants and quantities in the environment are on the rise. Because they are structurally related to polychlorinated biphenyls and also to thyroid hormones, there is serious concern that PBDEs may pose a danger to human health. Knowledge of their conformational properties is key to assessing their environmental fate and risk. The conformational properties of PBDEs were investigated by quantum chemical methods including semiempirical self-consistent field molecular orbital (SCF-MO), ab initio SCF-MO and density functional theory (DFT). Conformational analyses of model congeners 2,2',4,6'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether and 2,3,4,4',5,6-hexabromodiphenyl ether, based on energy maps calculated by semiempirical AM1 method, may indicate that all PBDE congeners except those with the tetra-ortho-bromination are conformationally flexible (or soft) due to low energy barriers for interconversion of stable conformers. The results of the conformational analyses are in conformity with recently published X-ray crystallographic data. For comparison with the results of the semiempirical method, higher level ab initio and DFT models were applied as well. The optimized geometries all lie well inside low energy regions on the maps and thus also ascertain the semiempirical calculations. According to computed geometric parameters and net atomic charges, the model B3LYP/3-21G* seemed to give better results than B3LYP/6-31G* and HF/6-31G*.

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