Post-doctoral Training in Exposure Assessment of Emerging Contaminants in the Indoor Environment

Research Trainee: Simone Charles, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan

Faculty Researcher: Stuart Batterman, PhD, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan

Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and biphenyl are widely used in plastics, textiles, foams and electronic equipment. These contaminants are of great concern as body burdens are increasing at an exponential rate in both occupationally-exposed workers and in the general public. The emission sources and transport pathways that cause these exposures are poorly understood, particularly in the workplace. The available but limited measurements show that indoor concentrations of BFRs are high and greatly exceed outdoor levels. Because indoor and workplace environments are known to contain these materials, and since indoor levels appear to accumulate due to the presence of these sources and the slow rate of degradation, industrial and commercial buildings may represent an important exposure source. To date, however, the literature contains few occupational exposure studies that have characterized BFRs, and all of the identified studies have been conducted in Europe, though much higher exposures have been reported in North America. The proposed research aims to better understand occupational exposures of BFRs by characterizing their distribution and emissions in both commercial and industrial buildings. Emissions from indoor materials will be quantified by measuring vapor and particulate phase BFR-related compounds at 12 industrial and 12 commercial sites. At each site, we will measure incoming (outdoor) and exiting (indoor) BFR concentrations; determine air exchange rates using tracer gas techniques; assess building volume and other building parameters; and conduct a building walkthrough audit. Emission rates will be derived from the collected data by mass balance. Complementary but separate work will characterize these compounds in residential environments for comparison.


Publications resulting from this project:
Batterman SA, Chernyak S, Jia C, Godwin C, Charles S. Concentrations and emissions of polybrominated diphenyl ethers from U.S. houses and garages. Environmental Science Technology. 2009;43(8):2693-2700. doi: 10.1021/es8029957.

Charles SM, Jia C, Batterman SA, Godwin C. VOC and Particulate Emissions from Commercial Cigarettes: Analysis of 2,5-DMF as an ETS Tracer. Environmental Science & Technology. 2008;42(4):1324-1331. doi:10.1021/es072062w.

Batterman S, Chen TC, Chernyak S, Godwin C. Design and performance evaluation of a medium flow sampler for airborne brominated flame retardants (BFRs) Journal of Environmental Monitoring. 2009;11(4): 858-866. doi: 10.1039/B817298F.