Tri(2,4-di- t-butylphenyl) Phosphate: A Previously Unrecognized, Abundant, Ubiquitous Pollutant in the Built and Natural Environment

Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Nov 20;52(22):12997-13003. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b02939. Epub 2018 Oct 30.


Using high-resolution mass spectrometry, we identified tri(2,4-di- t-butylphenyl) phosphate (TDTBPP) in e-waste dust. This is a previously unsuspected pollutant that had not been reported before in the environment. To assess its abundance in the environment, we measured its concentration in e-waste dust, house dust, sediment from the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal, Indiana Harbor water filters, and filters from high-volume air samplers deployed in Chicago, IL. To provide a context for interpreting these quantitative results, we also measured the concentrations of triphenyl phosphate (TPhP), a structurally similar compound, in these samples. Median concentrations of TDTBPP and TPhP were 14 400 and 41 500 ng/g, respectively, in e-waste dust and 4900 and 2100 ng/g, respectively, in house dust. TDTBPP was detected in sediment, water, and air with median concentrations of 527 ng/g, 3700 pg/L, and 149 pg/m3, respectively. TDTBPP concentrations were generally higher or comparable to those of TPhP in all media analyzed, except for the e-waste dust. Exposure from dust ingestion and dermal absorption in the e-waste recycling facility and in homes was calculated. TDTBPP exposure was 571 ng/kg bw/day in the e-waste recycling facility (pro-rated for an 8-h shift), and 536 ng/kg bw and 7550 ng/kg bw/day for adults and toddlers, respectively, in residential environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor*
  • Chicago
  • Dust
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Flame Retardants*
  • Humans
  • Indiana
  • Phosphates


  • Dust
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Flame Retardants
  • Phosphates