Examining the Gas-Particle Partitioning of Organophosphate Esters: How Reliable Are Air Measurements?
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Organophosphate esters (OPEs) in air have been found to be captured entirely on filters of typical active air samplers and thus designated as being in the particle phase. However, this particle fraction is unexpected, especially for more volatile tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) and tris(chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP). We evaluated gas-particle partitioning in indoor and outdoor air for OPEs and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) using single-parameter models (Junge-Pankow, Harner-Bidleman) and poly-parameter linear free energy relationship (pp-LFER) models. We also used the pp-LFER to estimate filter-air partitioning in active air samplers. We found that all gas-particle partitioning models predicted that TCEP and TCIPP should be in the gas phase, contrary to measurements. The pp-LFER better accounted for OPE measurements than the single-parameter models, except for TCEP and TCIPP. Gas-particle partitioning of PBDEs was reasonably explained by all models. The pp-LFER for filter-air partitioning showed that gas-phase sorption to glass and especially quartz fiber filters used for active air samplers could account for up to 100% of filter capture and explain the high particle fractions reported for TCIPP, tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate TDCIPP, and triphenyl phosphate TPhP, but not TCEP. The misclassification of gas-particle partitioning can result in erroneous estimates of the fraction of chemical subject to gas-phase reactions and atmospheric scavenging and, hence, atmospheric long-range transport.
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