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Content of combustion retardants in cars’ dust

Maisa Inibtawi, David Broday, Yael Dubowski

Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have routinely been added to consumer products for several decades in a successful effort to reduce fire-related injuries and property damages. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are commercially produced in three forms: pentaBDE, octaBDE and decaBDE. PBDES are mostly used as additive chemicals, so they can leach out into the environment. Dust is an ideal matrix for adsorption of these contaminants, due to its omnipresence in the environment and intrinsic characteristics. Exposure to PBDE in automobiles is suspected to be higher than in other indoor and outdoor environments due to the high temperatures that can be attained inside cars (~80oC in the mid Israeli summer). The goal of this research is to examine concentration patterns of three PBDEs (47, 99, 209) found in car dust (collected from car seats), accounting for seasonality and interior cleaning cycles. Moreover, we studied the influence of the air temperature and of direct solar radiation on evaporation-removal processes in the car, with evaporation leading to increasing concentrations and high molecular weight debromination (due to photochemistry) leading to shift of the bromine towards lower molecular weight compounds. Data collection covered three seasons, winter, spring/fall and summer. In total, 16 cars were sampled. To further study the effect of car exposure to solar radiation, the owners/drivers of the cars reported “mostly” parking in the sun or in the shade (in particular in the summer). Results are currently being finalized as part of Maisa’s thesis. Preliminary results show potentially higher exposures to PBDEs in cars that park in the Israeli summer.