A miniature bird-borne passive air sampler for monitoring halogenated flame retardants
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Birds have been used intensively as biomonitors of halogenated flame retardants (HFRs), and several studies have reported elevated tissue concentrations and inter-individual variability for these contaminants. While diet is known to be an important exposure pathway for HFRs in birds, it has been suggested that exposure through air may represent an underestimated source of HFRs for certain species. However, a method was not available for measuring the atmospheric exposure of individual birds to HFRs or other semi-volatile contaminants. The goal of this study was to develop a bird-borne passive air sampler (PAS) enabling the determination of individual atmospheric exposure to gas- and particle-phase HFRs using the ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis) nesting in the Montreal area (QC, Canada). The new miniaturized elliptical-shaped PAS (mean weight: 2.72g) was tested using two sorbent types during three exposure periods (one, two and three weeks). Results showed that PAS using polyurethane foam (PUF) combined with a glass fiber filter collected all major polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and exhibited better performance for collecting highly hydrophobic DecaBDE mixture congeners compared to the PAS using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Emerging HFRs including hexabromobenzene, Dechlorane 604 Component B, and Dechlorane plus (DP) isomers also were sampled by the PUF-based PAS. Sampling rates for most HFRs were comparable between the three exposure periods. This novel bird-borne PAS provides valuable information on the non-dietary exposure of free-ranging birds to HFRs.
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