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Emerging and legacy organic halogenated pollutants in indoor dust
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1  "Sapienza" University of Rome - Chemistry Department-


In indoor environments such as houses and workplaces, the concentration of organic pollutants in dust can be high, due to the presence of textile, electronic, building materials and furniture treated with these chemicals. In fact, during the use of aged product, abraded particles release legacy halogenated pollutants in dust. In addition, emerging halogenated pollutants can be also released from new devices and furniture. These compounds are of health concern because it would be expected behaviour similar to legacy ones, such as bioaccumulative and toxicity properties, including endocrine toxicity and carcinogenicity.

In this study, we monitored selected emerging organic pollutants, such as novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs) and some perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), together with legacy polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in indoor settled dust. Dust represent an important exposure pathway for inhalation, dermal adsorption, and for the inadvertent ingestion for example with hand-mouth activity.

We assayed the presence of these compounds in different indoor scenario, five dusts were collected and sieved at 63 µm, in particular two domestic dusts, an office dust and two electro technical repair laboratory dusts. A unique sample treatment was optimized for the extraction of all the investigated compounds and the analyses were carried out with different analytical techniques, HPLC-MS/MS and GC-MS. The results highlight that in electro technical repair workplaces a high incidence of PCBs PBDEs and NBFRs occurred; moreover, perfluorooctane carboxyl acid was detected. By contrast, the total contribution of the investigated pollutants was lower in house and in the office dusts except for few NBFR compounds.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their oxygenated derivatives (oxy-PAHs) and nitro-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (nitro-PAHs) were also included for their ubiquity, health concern and in perspective of a cumulative exposure assessment to environmental pollutants.

In addition, dust collection represents a simple, fast and cost-effective sampling and dust contamination level can be a useful indicator of environment healthiness.

Keywords: dust; indoor environment; emerging pollutants; NBFR; PFAS; PBDE; PCB