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Research article2018Peer reviewed

Screening of organic flame retardants in Swedish river water

Gustavsson, Jakob; Wiberg, Karin; Ribeli, Erik; Minh Anh Nguyen; Josefsson, Sarah; Ahrens, Lutz


Alternative flame retardants (FRs) have now replaced legacy FRs (such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, PBDEs), but little is known about their fate in the aquatic environment. In this study, a range of legacy FRs (0 = 10) and alternative FRs, including halogenated FRs (HFRs, n = 32) and organophosphorus FRs (OPFRs, n = 19), were screened in water samples collected from 23 rivers covering the whole latitudinal range of Sweden. Of the 61 targeted ERs, 26 were detected in at least one of the river samples, with Sigma FR concentrations ranging up to 170 ng L-1 (mean 31 +/- 45 ng L-1). In general, higher concentrations and a larger variety of FRs were detected in southern Sweden (Sigma ER = 60 +/- 56 ng L-1) compared with the north (3 ER 9.0 +/- 16 ng L-1). In the south, HFRs were dominant, constituting on average 59% of Sigma Rs, whereas in the north, OPFRs were dominant, constituting on average 82% of 11, Sigma Rs. This difference was best explained by higher population density in the south. The total daily flux of FRs into the Baltic Sea was estimated to be similar to 31 kg and comprised mainly tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA), 3,4,5,6-tetrabromophthalic anhydride (TEBP-Anh), and 2,4,6-tribromophenol (TBP). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of environmental occurrence of TEBP-Anh, which was detected in two rivers and is suggested to originate from airports located near the sampling sites. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Flame retardant; Organophosphorus flame retardant; Halogenated flame retardant; River; Surface water; Point source

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2018, Volume: 625, pages: 1046-1055