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Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers and Alternative Flame Retardants in Air and Precipitation Samples from the Northern Lake Victoria Region, East Africa

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journal contribution
posted on 04.02.2014, 00:00 by Kenneth Arinaitwe, Derek C. G. Muir, Bernard T. Kiremire, Phil Fellin, Henrik Li, Camilla Teixeira
High volume air and precipitation samples were collected close to the shore of Lake Victoria at Entebbe, Uganda, between October 2008 and July 2010 inclusive. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and alternative flame retardants (AFRs) were analyzed by GC–MS. BDEs 47, 99, and 209 were the predominant PBDEs with mean concentrations (in air) of 9.84, 4.38, 8.27 pg m–3 and mean fluxes in precipitation of 3.40, 6.23, and 7.82 ng m–2 sample–1, respectively. 1,2-bis­(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)­ethane (BTBPE), and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD), anti- and syn-Dechlorane plus were detected at levels comparable with those of PBDEs. Both PBDEs and AFRs in air generally increased from 2008 to 2010. Elevated PBDE concentrations in air were associated with slow moving low altitude air masses from the region immediately adjacent to the lake, while low concentrations were mostly associated with fast moving westerly and southwesterly air masses. Analysis of the octa- and nona-BDE profiles suggested photolysis and pyrolytic debromination of BDE-209 in the air samples. The highly halogenated and most abundant PBDEs and AFRs in air also predominated in precipitation samples. This is the first study to report flame retardants in high volume air samples and precipitation in Equatorial Africa.