Mass transfer of an organophosphate flame retardant between product source and dust in direct contact

Organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs) are a group of semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) and among the most abundant contaminants indoors. Their indoor presence has been associated with potential health risks however there is limited understanding as to how they are released from indoor sources. This study uses an emission micro-chamber to explore one of the currently understudied chemical migration pathways; direct transfer between a source material and settled dust in contact with the source.

A tris(2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP)-treated insulation board is used as the source material. Rapid and substantial transfer was observed after only 8 h of source-dust contact, resulting in 80 times higher concentrations in dust compared to pre-experiment levels.

Further time points at 24 h and 7 d showed similarly high average dust levels and the TCIPP in the dust and air in the chamber was calculated to be close to thermodynamic equilibrium. It was concluded that TCIPP was effectively transferred from the insulation board to the dust on its surface and the surrounding air via gas-phase diffusion. In a real room, a gradient of TCIPP concentrations in air above the surface of a product could result in higher concentrations in dust sitting on the product than dust in the rest of the room.

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