Transformation of 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether under UV irradiation: Potential sources of the secondary pollutants

Ji Zhong Wang, Yuqing Hou, Jianshun Zhang, Jiping Zhu, Yong Lai Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


A commercial brominated flame retardant 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) was used as the model chemical to investigate the degradation and transformation of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in gas and liquid phases, respectively, under ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. The results showed that BDE-47 can be transformed to less-brominated BDE analogs. A total of six compounds that are less-brominated BDEs and two brominated phenols were observed as transformation products in the reaction mixtures. Different degradation rates of BDE-47 in n-nonane and in isooctane in the same chamber system were observed. Degradation rate of BDE-47 in n-nonane was faster than in isooctane. Under UV irradiation, the bromine on the ortho positions of the phenyl rings was lost first to form 2,4,4'-tribromodiphenyl ether (BDE-28), which then progressively lead to 4,4'-dibromodiphenyl ether (BDE-15) or 2,4'-dibromodiphenyl ether (BDE-8). An airborne transformation pathway has been proposed according to observed transformation products. The more volatile less-brominated BDEs from transformation of BDE-47 are easily evaporated into air to be a source of secondary pollutants in the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-783
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Dec 15 2013


  • Air quality
  • Airborne BDE-47
  • Degradation and transformation
  • Pathway
  • Ultraviolet (UV) irradiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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