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Brominated Flame Retardants: An Ongoing Threat to Urban Aquatic Systems - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Domestic Sewage. Secondary Sludge Treatment. Industry Waste (pre-treated). Trickling Filter. Filtration. Storm Water Overflow. Alternative Processes. Grit Channel Screening. Primary Sedimentation. Primary Sludge. Activated Sludge. Settlement Tanks. Land Application.

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Presentation Transcript
Brominated flame retardants an ongoing threat to urban aquatic systems

Domestic Sewage

Secondary Sludge Treatment

Industry Waste (pre-treated)




Storm Water


Alternative Processes

Grit Channel


Primary Sedimentation

Primary Sludge



Settlement Tanks

Land Application

Recycled AS

Drying & Dumping


Activated Sludge (AS)


CH4 as Energy

Tertiary treatments

Discharge to Receiving Water

  • Brominated Flame Retardants: An Ongoing Threat to Urban Aquatic Systems

  • Azivy Aziz, Kelly Granberg, and Karl Rockne




PolybrominatedDiphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)

209 BDE congeners

Commercial mixtures used in Electronics, Textiles, Plastics for fire protection


Exposure to humans

Saytex102 DE-79 DE-71

Wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) interface

Focus point for 21st century pollutants


  • Extensive debromination of PBDEs occurs in anaerobic digesters in WWTPs to more toxic congeners

  • Domestic wastewater is a primary source of PBDEs to WWTPs

BDE 209

BDE 99

BDE 47

Toxicity and bioavailability increases

  • Tumor, Neurodevelopment, Hormone Imbalance effects

Results and Discussion

Materials and Methods

  • Source Apportionment:

  • Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) multivariate model with non-negative rotations

  • Factor data matrix into: loading and contribution matrices

  • Compare with source profiles for identification

  • Analysis:

  • Soxhletextraction of PBDEs

  • Gel permeation and silica gel column cleanup

  • Instrumental analysis of >40 PBDE congeners by GC/MS-NCI

  • Sampling:

  • 3 WWTPs, 3 wastewater feeds

    • Calumet Water Reclamation Plant (CWRP); mixed industrial, storm, residential feed

    • Woodridge Green Valley (WGV); residential feed only

    • Knollwood(KWD) plant; residential feed only

  • Sludge sampled from all stages of the digesters

Dominant congener concentrations in the primary feed of 3 wastewater treatment plants. Residential biosolids are 2-5 times higher in PBDEs than mixed industrial-storm-residential biosolids.

PMF indicates SAYTEX and DE-71 are dominant sources to biosolids. In addition, PMF indicates breakdown of PBDE commercial products prior to entering biosolids treatment

  • PBDEs are present in greater concentration in higher income, residential wastewater

    • Indicates “pollution of affluence”

  • Main sources of PBDEs are Saytex102 and Deca71

    • Some breakdown already occurring by the time sample arrives

  • DecaBDEs are broken down in the digester

    • This is the FIRST REPORT of this activity confirmed in the environment

  • Bans on DE-71 and DE-79 BDEs WILL NOT be adequate to prevent release of toxic BDE congeners into the environment.


Total PBDE levels in biosolids are 10-1000 times higher than lake sediment samples!


  • Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

  • Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

  • Woodridge - Greene Valley waste treatment facility of Dupage county

Highly statistically significant increases in lower brominated congener groups relative to BDE-209 in the WGV digestion process. Note log scale on y axis.