Brominated flame retardants - environmental impact, persistence and biodegradability Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) comprise a group of anthropogenicenvironmental contaminants. BFRs are used at relatively high concentrations innumerous applications, including the manufacture of electronic equipment, textiles,plastic polymers and in the car industry, primarily to protect materials against ignition.Due to the halogen(s) covalently bound to the carbon skeleton in BFRs, many of thesecompounds are toxic, persistent, have limited biodegradability and tend to bioaccumulatein the environment. Their widespread production and use, combined with inappropriatetreatment of industrial wastewater and solid waste, are the cause of global environmentalconcern. Indeed, recent reports have demonstrated the presence of BFRs at variousconcentrations in air, water, soil, wastewater and sediments far from the locations wherethey are produced. Moreover, traces of BFRs have been detected in animals and humans.Cleanup of these contaminated sites by physical-chemical processes is expensive andlabor-intensive and often results in shuffling toxicants from one site to another. Onepossible solution to this problem is intensive, targeted biological treatment. The mainproblem with a biological approach is the lack of knowledge concerning appropriatemicroorganisms, biochemical pathways and operational conditions facilitatingbiodegradation of synthetic chemicals at an acceptable rate. In this chapter, we willdiscuss the environmental impact, persistence and recent development in BFRsbiodegradation research and the implication of such efforts on wastewater treatment processes.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010