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Tri(2,4-di-tert-butylphenyl) phosphate identified as a new environmental pollutant

by Jyllian Kemsley
November 2, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 44


Chemical structure of tri(2,4-di-tert-butylphenyl) phosphate.

Likely used as a flame retardant or plasticizer in electrical and electronic equipment, tri(2,4-di-tert-butylphenyl) phosphate has been identified in dust from an electronic-waste-recycling facility as well as in residential dust and Lake Michigan water and sediments (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b02939). The research team that identified the compound was led by Marta Venier of Indiana University’s School of Public & Environmental Affairs. The compound may also reach the environment via oxidation of tri(2,4-di-tert-butylphenyl) phosphite, which is used in plastics to protect them from degradation during extrusion, sterilization, or storage. No systematic toxicity assessments have been published for the compound, say the researchers who identified it in the dust and other samples. The researchers estimate exposure to be 571 ng/kg of body weight per day for electronic-waste-recycling workers, and household exposure of 536 ng/kg of body weight per day for adults and 7,550 ng/kg for toddlers. Venier and several of the same colleagues previously this year identified a brominated flame retardant, 2,4,6-tris(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)-1,3,5-triazine, in samples of electronic-waste-recycling and household dust but not in samples from the outdoor environment (Environ Sci. Technol. 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06139).


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