PhD conferral Martin Brits - online




Flame Retardants in the South African Indoor Environment

Martin Brits

Prof. dr. J. de Boer & prof. dr. E.R. Rohwer, copromotors dr. J.M. Weiss & dr. J. De Vos

Amsterdam Institute of Molecular and Life Sciences


PhD conferral

Flame retardants (FRs), such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs), organophosphorus flame retardants (OPFRs), and chlorinated paraffins (CPs) are commonly used in combustible consumer products such as electrical and electronic equipment, furniture, carpets, insulation materials and other commercial products. Due to their unique physiochemical properties, these compounds are useful for the intended purpose to reduce product flammability, and to meet fire safety requirements. The disadvantage is that most FRs end up in the environment and several are also toxic and bioaccumulate in organisms.

Developing countries in Africa have limited facilities that specialise in FR analysis and we showed that the analyses in Africa were mainly targeted at BFRs, and there is inadequate data on the levels and occurrence of CPs and OPFRs. Screening analysis using cat hair as matrix, allowed us to identify FRs and other organohalogenated compounds (OHCs). More than seventy OHCs were identified, and included known FRs, and legacy contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides. Concentrations for BFRs, OPFRs, and CPs were further determined in indoor dust and hair samples obtained for some of the indoor pet cats, which share a common environment with toddlers. Hair and indoor dust samples showed comparable FR profiles and we revealed that the South African indoor environment shows high levels of CPs followed by OPFRs and BFRs. Toddlers share the same environment as cats and exposure could result in immediate and long term health risk for children.