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University of Massachusetts – Amherst study: New process discovered to completely degrade flame retardant in the environment

8 Aug

Science Direct reported in Tetrabromobisphenol A:

Abstract
Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) is one of the most prevalent flame retardants, and is used in plastic paints, synthetic textiles, and electrical devices. Despite the fact that TBBPA is excreted quickly from the body, it is detected in human plasma and milk. Owing to the structural resemblance to thyroid hormones (THs), the thyroid disruption activities of TBBPA have been investigated over the past two decades. Possible action sites are plasma TH binding protein and TH receptors. In experimental animal models, TBBPA exposure induces a decrease in plasma TH levels and a delay of TH-induced metamorphosis in animals. In studies using cell lines, TBBPA shows weak agonist and antagonist activities. These in vitro and in vivo bioassays may be powerful tools for detecting the thyroid system disruption activity of TBBPA. Although recent findings suggest diverse biological effects of TBBPA on the thyroid, reproductive, and immune systems, there is still controversy regarding these effects…. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/tetrabromobisphenol-a and https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012801028000249X
Scientists are researching the effects of Tetrabromobisphenol A.

Green Sciences Policy Institute provided an overview of retardants:

Flame retardant chemicals are used in commercial and consumer products (like furniture and building insulation) to meet flammability standards. Not all flame retardants present concerns, but the following types often do:
• Halogenated flame retardants (also known as organohalogen flame retardants) containing chlorine or bromine bonded to carbon.
• Organophosphorous flame retardants containing phosphorous bonded to carbon.
For these types of flame retardants:
• Some are associated with health and environmental concerns
• Many are inadequately tested for safety
• They provide questionable fire safety benefits as used in some products
Major uses
The major uses of flame retardant chemicals by volume in the U.S. are:
• Electronics
• Building insulation
• Polyurethane foam
• Wire and cable
Properties of Concern
Organohalogen and organophosphorous flame retardants often have one or more of the following properties of concern. Chemicals with all these properties are considered Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and present significant risks to human health and environment. https://greensciencepolicy.org/topics/flame-retardants/

University of Massachusetts Amherst reported a process to degrade flame retardant.

Science Daily reported in New process discovered to completely degrade flame retardant in the environment:

A team of environmental scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and China has for the first time used a dynamic, two-step process to completely degrade a common flame-retardant chemical, rendering the persistent global pollutant nontoxic.
This new process breaks down tetrabromobisohenol A (TBBPA) to harmless carbon dioxide and water. The discovery highlights the potential of using a special material, sulfidated nanoscale zerovalent iron (S-nZVI), in water treatment systems and in the natural environment to break down not only TBBPA but other organic refractory compounds that are difficult to degrade, says Jun Wu, a visiting Ph.D. student at UMass Amherst’s Stockbridge College of Agriculture and lead author of the paper published in Environmental Science & Technology….
“This research can lead to a decrease in the potential risk of TBBPA to the environment and human health,” says Wu, who began the research at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei. At UMass Amherst, Wu works in the pioneering lab of Baoshan Xing, professor of environmental and soil chemistry, corresponding author of the new study and one of the world’s most highly cited researchers….
Among the most common flame retardants that hinder combustion and slow the spread of fire, TBBPA is added to manufactured materials, including computer circuit boards and other electrical devices, papers, textiles and plastics.
Associated with a variety of health concerns, including cancer and hormone disruption, TBBPA has been widely detected in the environment, as well as in animals and human milk and plasma.
Although Wu and Xing’s research breaks new ground in the efforts to develop safe and effective processes to remediate groundwater and soil contaminated with TBBPA, they say more research is needed to learn how to best apply the process.
Their research was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Hatch Program. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190808115102.htm

Citation:

New process discovered to completely degrade flame retardant in the environment
New research has potential application to remediate other difficult-to-degrade pollutants
Date: August 8, 2019
Source: University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Summary:
A team of environmental scientists has for the first time used a dynamic, two-step process to completely degrade a common flame-retardant chemical, rendering the persistent global pollutant nontoxic.

Journal Reference:
Jun Wu, Jian Zhao, Jun Hou, Raymond Jianxiong Zeng, Baoshan Xing. Degradation of Tetrabromobisphenol A by Sulfidated Nanoscale Zerovalent Iron in a Dynamic Two-Step Anoxic/Oxic Process. Environmental Science & Technology, 2019; 53 (14): 8105 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b06834

Here is the press release from UMass Amherst:

New Process Discovered to Completely Degrade Flame Retardant in the Environment
UMass Amherst research has potential application to remediate other difficult-to-degrade pollutants
August 8, 2019
Contact: Jun Wu 413-210-2729
AMHERST, Mass. – A team of environmental scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and China has for the first time used a dynamic, two-step process to completely degrade a common flame-retardant chemical, rendering the persistent global pollutant nontoxic.
This new process breaks down tetrabromobisophenol A (TBBPA) to harmless carbon dioxide and water. The discovery highlights the potential of using a special material, sulfidated nanoscale zerovalent iron (S-nZVI), in water treatment systems and in the natural environment to break down not only TBBPA but other organic refractory compounds that are difficult to degrade,says Jun Wu, a visiting Ph.D. student at UMass Amherst’s Stockbridge College of Agriculture and lead author of the paper published in Environmental Science & Technology.
“This is the first research about this dynamic, oxic/anoxic process,” Wu says. “Usually, reduction or oxidation alone is used to remove TBBPA, facilitated by S-nZVI. We combined reduction and oxidation together to degrade it completely.”
Wu emphasizes that “the technique is technically simple and environmentally friendly. That is a key point to its application.”
The research is featured on the cover of ES&T, which is widely respected for publishing papers in the environmental disciplines that are both significant and original.
“This research can lead to a decrease in the potential risk of TBBPA to the environment and human health,” says Wu, who began the research at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei. At UMass Amherst, Wu works in the pioneering lab of Baoshan Xing, professor of environmental and soil chemistry, corresponding author of the new study and one of the world’s most highly cited researchers.
“Our research shows a feasible and environmentally friendly process to completely degrade refractory brominated flame retardants in a combined oxic and anoxic system,” Xing says. “This is important for getting rid of these harmful compounds from the environment, thus reducing the exposure and risk.”
Among the most common flame retardants that hinder combustion and slow the spread of fire, TBBPA is added to manufactured materials, including computer circuit boards and other electrical devices, papers, textiles and plastics.
Associated with a variety of health concerns, including cancer and hormone disruption, TBBPA has been widely detected in the environment, as well as in animals and human milk and plasma.
Although Wu and Xing’s research breaks new ground in the efforts to develop safe and effective processes to remediate groundwater and soil contaminated with TBBPA, they say more research is needed to learn how to best apply the process.
Their research was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Hatch Program.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists risks in Fact Sheet: Assessing Risks from Flame Retardants https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/fact-sheet-assessing-risks-flame-retardants

Resources:
COMPOUND SUMMARY – Tetrabromobisphenol A https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Tetrabromobisphenol-A

Is the flame retardant, tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), a reproductive or developmental toxicant?
Date:
February 18, 2015
Source:
Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment
Summary:
Two studies examined the effects of tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) at oral doses of 10,100 or 1000 mg/kg bw/day over the course of 2 generations on growth as well as behavioral, neurological and neuropathologic functions in offspring. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150218092044.htm

Global Tetrabromobisphenol-A Market is Evolving with Chemicals and Materials Industry in 2019 | Get Strategic Insights. https://theindustryforecast.com/2019/07/24/global-tetrabromobisphenol-a-insights-market-sp/

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