The large number and diversity of organohalogen compounds (OHCs) occurring in the environment poses a grand challenge to analytical chemists. Since no single targeted method can identify and quantify all OHCs, the size of the OHC iceberg may be underestimated. We sought to address this problem in municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) sludge by quantifying the unidentified fraction of the OHC iceberg using targeted analyses of major OHCs together with measurements of total- and extractable (organo)halogen (TX and EOX, respectively; where X=F, Cl, or Br). In addition to extensive method validation via spike/recovery and combustion efficiency experiments, TX and/or EOX were determined in reference materials (BCR-461 and NIST SRMs 2585 and 2781) for the first time. Application of the method to WWTP sludge revealed that chlorinated paraffins (CPs) accounted for most (~92%) of the EOCl, while brominated flame retardants and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) accounted for only 54% of the EOBr and 2% of the EOF, respectively. Moreover, unidentified EOF in non-polar CP extracts points to the existence of organofluorine(s) with physical-chemical properties unlike those of target PFAS. This study represents the first multi-halogen mass balance in WWTP sludge, and offers a novel approach to prioritization of sample extracts for follow-up investigation.
Supporting Information - Organohalogen Iceberg
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