Microwave-assisted Solvent Extraction of Brominated Flame Retardants from Polymer Samples

The RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) by the European Union restricts the use of six hazardous materials in electrical and electronic equipment: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). Determination of these polybrominated compounds, which are commonly used as flame retardants, requires solvent extraction techniques, usually followed by subsequent GC-MS analysis.


Contrary to its lower brominated congeners like pentabromo diphenylether (PentaBDE) or octabromo diphenylether (OctaBDE), decabromo diphenylether (DecaBDE) is allowed with some restrictions. Due to its high molecular weight and its hydrophobicity it is assumed to be inert.

However, the question of bioavailability and bioaccumulation of this flame retardant becomes subject of more intense research. Besides, the possibility of debromination, which can result in potentially toxic products, has to be considered. Thus, the necessity of a monitoring of DecaBDE needs to be pointed out, but not only in environmental samples.

Compared to classical Soxhlet extraction, which is known to be time and solvent consuming, MAE is able to overcome these drawbacks.

For this reason a MAE method for the determination of DecaBDE from two polymers – polyethylene and polystyrene – was developed, using a Box-Behnken design.1

[1] A. Ranz et al. Talanta, 2008, 76, 102-106

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