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Brominated flame retardants in waste electrical and electronic equipment: substance flows in a recycling plant

TitleBrominated flame retardants in waste electrical and electronic equipment: substance flows in a recycling plant
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsMorf L, Tremp J, Gloor R, Huber Y, Stengele M, Zennegg M
Journal TitleEnvironmental Science & Technology
AbstractBrominated flame retardants (BFRs) are synthetic additives mainly used in electrical and electronic appliances and in construction materials. The properties of some BFRs are typical for persistent organic pollutants, and certain BFRs, in particular some polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), are suspected to cause adverse health effects. Global consumption of the most demanded BFRs, i.e., penta-, octa-, and decaBDE, tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), and HBCD, has doubled in the 1990s. Only limited and rather uncertain data are available regarding the occurrence of BFRs in consumer goods and waste fractions as well as regarding emissions during use and disposal. The knowledge of anthropogenic substance flows and stocks is essential for early recognition of environmental impacts and effective chemicals management. In this paper, actual levels of penta-, octa-, and decaBDE, TBBPA, and HBCD in waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) as a major carrier of BFRs are presented. These BFRs have been determined in products of a modern Swiss recycling plant applying gas chromatography/electron capture detection and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. A substance flow analysis (SFA) technique has been used to characterize the flows of target substances in the recycling process from the bulk WEEE input into the output products. Average concentrations in small size WEEE, representing the relevant electric and electronic appliances in WEEE, sampled in 2003 amounted to 34 mg/kg for pentaBDE, 530 mg/kg for octaBDE, 510 mg/kg for decaBDE, 1420 mg/kg for TBBPA (as an additive), 17 mg/kg for HBCD, 5500 mg/kg for bromine, and 1700 mg/kg for antimony.
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