Environmental research

Comprehensive characterisation of flame retardants in textile furnishings by ambient high resolution mass spectrometry, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and environmental forensic microscopy.

PMID 26398896


The presence and levels of flame retardants (FRs), such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs), was determined in textile home furnishings, such as carpets and curtains from stores in Belgium. A comprehensive characterisation of FRs in textile was done by ambient high resolution mass spectrometry (qualitative screening), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) (quantitation), and environmental forensic microscopy (surface distribution). Ambient ionisation coupled to a time-of-flight (TOF) high resolution mass spectrometer (direct probe-TOF-MS) was investigated for the rapid screening of FRs. Direct probe-TOF-MS proved to be useful for a first screening step of textiles to detect FRs below the levels required to impart flame retardancy and to reduce, in this way, the number of samples for further quantitative analysis. Samples were analysed by GC-MS to confirm the results obtained by ambient mass spectrometry and to obtain quantitative information. The levels of PBDEs and PFRs were typically too low to impart flame retardancy. Only high levels of BDE-209 (11-18% by weight) were discovered and investigated in localised hotspots by employing forensic microscopy techniques. Most of the samples were made of polymeric materials known to be inherently flame retarded to some extent, so it is likely that other alternative and halogen-free FR treatments/solutions are preferred for the textiles on the Belgian market.

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Methane, electronic grade, ≥99.998%