Environmental research

Organophosphorus flame retardants in the European eel in Flanders, Belgium: Occurrence, fate and human health risk.

PMID 26056994


The present study investigated the levels, profiles and human health risk of organophosphorus flame retardants and plasticizers (PFRs) in wild European eels (Anguilla anguilla) from freshwater bodies in the highly populated and industrial Flanders region (Belgium). Yellow eels (n=170) were collected at 26 locations between 2000 and 2009 and for each site, muscle samples of 3-10 eels were pooled and analyzed (n=26). Muscle lipid percentages varied widely between 2.4% and 21%, with a median value of 10%. PFRs were detected in all pooled samples in the order of tris-2-chloroisopropyl phosphate (TCIPP)>triphenyl phosphate (TPHP)>2-ethylhexyl diphenyl phosphate (EHDPHP)>tris-2-butoxyethyl phosphate (TBOEP)>tris-2-chloroethyl phosphate (TCEP)>tris-1,3-dichloro-2-propyl phosphate (TDCIPP). The median sum PFR concentration for all 26 sites was 44 ng/g lw (8.4 ng/g ww), and levels ranged between 7.0 and 330 ng/g lw (3.5 and 45 ng/g ww). Levels and profiles of PFRs in eels showed that sampling locations and river basin catchments are possible drivers of spatial variation in the aquatic environment. Median PFR concentrations were lower than those of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs). No correlation was observed between the PFR concentrations and lipid contents, suggesting that the accumulation of PFRs is not primarily associated with lipids. Human exposure to PFRs, due to consumption of wild eels, seems to be of minor importance compared to other potential sources, such as inhalation and ingestion of indoor dust. Nevertheless, considering the very limited data available on PFRs in human dietary items and their expected increasing use after the phase out of PBDEs and HBCDs, further investigations on PFRs in biota and human food items are warranted.