Temporal trends of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecanes in marine mammals with special reference to Hong Kong, South China

Ling JIN, Chung Wah James LAM, Margaret B. MURPHY, Paul K.S. LAM

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


Owing to advances in polymer science over the past 50 years, a large number of polymers with differing properties have been developed for daily applications ranging from clothing and furniture to electronics, vehicles, and computers. However, most of these polymers are petroleum-based and hence are flammable. In order to reduce fire risks and meet fire safety regulations, certain chemicals collectively known as flame retardants are applied to combustible materials such as plastics, wood, paper, and textiles [1]. Currently, there are more than 175 compounds or groups of compounds with known flame-retarding properties, which are generally divided into four classes: inorganic, halogenated organic, nitrogen-containing, and phosphorus-containing compounds [2]. Among the halogenated flame retardants, brominated compounds comprise the largest market share because of their lower decomposition temperatures, higher performance efficiency, and low cost [2,3]. Thus, brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have been extensively used to improve the fire resistance of materials such as plastics, textiles, furnishing foam, and electronic circuit boards [4]. Based on their use in the chemical industry, BFRs can be classified as either reactive or additive. Reactive BFRs such as the tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) are covalently bound to the polymer matrix. Compared to their reactive counterparts, additive BFRs are not chemically bound to the product and therefore tend to migrate out of the product much more easily and are thus more likely to be released into the environment. Examples of additive BFRs include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), and hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs). Production of PBBs in the United States was phased out in the 1970s after a farm product contamination incident in Michigan [5]. In turn, production of PBDEs has increased, peaking in the mid-1990s [6]. Copyright © 2012 by Taylor & Francis .Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal contamination trends of persistent organic chemicals
EditorsBommanna G. LOGANATHAN, Paul Kwan-Sing LAM
Place of PublicationBoca Raton
PublisherCRC Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780429063770
ISBN (Print)9781439838303
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


Flame retardants
Fire resistance
Chemical industry
Polymer matrix
Electronic equipment
Crude oil
Networks (circuits)


Jin, L., Lam, J. C. W., Murphy, M. B., & Lam, P. K. S. (2011). Temporal trends of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecanes in marine mammals with special reference to Hong Kong, South China.In B. G. Loganathan, P. K.-S. Lam (Eds.), Global contamination trends of persistent organic chemicals (pp. 497-513). Boca Raton: CRC Press.