Occurrence of brominated flame retardants (BFRs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in agricultural soils in a BFR-manufacturing region of North China

Sci Total Environ. 2014 May 15;481:47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.02.023. Epub 2014 Feb 25.


We investigated the occurrence of brominated flame retardants (BFRs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the surface soils from the largest BFR-manufacturing and vegetable farming center (Shouguang) of North China. The total concentrations of BFRs ranged from 39.9 to 8,145 ng/g dry weight with a mean of 1,947 ng/g. The BFRs were dominated by decabromodiphenylethane (deca-BDEs) and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), with means of 1127 and 672 ng/g, respectively, followed by decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) (111 ng/g) and hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCD) (37.5 ng/g). This profile was generally consistent with the BFR production and use in China, except for TBBPA. Although the lower brominated BDEs (tri- through hepta-BDEs) in the soil may originate from technical deca-BDE mixtures as trace impurities and/or from the degradation of deca-BDEs, deca-BDE was shown to be persistent in the soil. The concentrations of OCPs (44 ng/g) were significantly lower than those of BFRs and displayed a spatial distribution opposite to that of BFRs, which was concentrated in the industrial zone. PCBs (with the lowest levels) showed a relatively uniform spatial distribution because of regional diffusive sources. The mass inventories for the entire land soil (20-cm) were estimated to be 1042, 26, and 3.7 t for BFRs, OCPs, and PCBs, respectively.

Keywords: BFRs; Mass inventory; OCPs; PCBs; Soil; Spatial distribution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • China
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Flame Retardants / analysis*
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis*
  • Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Soil / chemistry*
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*


  • Flame Retardants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls