Identification of the Halogenated Compounds Resulting from the 1997 Plastimet Inc. Fire in Hamilton, Ontario, using Comprehensive Two-Dimensional Gas Chromatography and (Ultra)High Resolution Mass Spectrometry
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Between July 9-12, 1997, at least 400 tonnes of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) were consumed in a fire at the Plastimet Inc. plastics recycling facility in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. This led to the release of contaminants, including highly toxic polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD) and dibenzofurans (PCDF). This study re-examines a composite soil sample collected shortly after the fire using state-of-the-art FT-ICR (Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance) and GC × GC-TOF (comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography-time-of-flight) mass spectrometry. The FT-ICR experiments led to the identification of approximately 150 molecular formulas, corresponding to chlorinated and mixed chloro/bromo compounds. The majority of these are halogenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (halo-PAHs), including highly substituted (e.g., C14HCl9 and C16HCl9) and high molecular weight (e.g., C28H12Cl4) Cl-PAHs that have not been reported previously in environmental samples. Complementary GC × GC-TOF experiments resolved individual halo-PAHs, some of which were confirmed with available standards. The concentrations of the most abundant halo-PAH groups, C14H8Cl2 (22 μg/g) and C16H8Cl2 (20 μg/g) are much higher than reported dioxin values and comparable to the corresponding PAH groups C14H10 (12 μg/g) and C16H10 (19 μg/g). The high abundance of the halo-PAHs identified in this study highlights the need for further investigation into their environmental occurrence and risk.
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