Brominated flame retardants contaminate plastic spatulas, spoons and others kitchen utensils

30.12.2017 - PRAGUE
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licence Creative Commons Atribution-NonCommecial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic, Wonderlane

Are you getting ready for a snack for the New Year's Eve? In that case, you should beware of kitchenware made of black plastics. Brominated flame retardants (BFR) currently banned under the EU legislation may contaminate everyday products that were not intentially treated with flame retardant substances (e.g. plastic kitchenware). These are the conclusions of recently published scientific study by academics from Birmingham university published in January in the „Science of the Total Environment“ magazine.

„We collected 96 kitchen utensils items and scanned them with hand-held X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer for bromine presence to determine the amount of kitchen utensils potentially contaminated with BFRs, explain the authors of the study. Only three of 27 of items purchased in 2011 were contaminated with detectable bromine concetrations (≥ 3 μg/g). However, the numbers were much higher for the goods purchased before 2011 - bromine was detected in 31 of 69 items.  

The most important conclusion of the study confirmed the fact that using XFR is very effective method for detecting BFRs in the plastics. Scientists have verified their results with precise measuring methods using gas chromatography (GC-MS) for determination of specific bromine substances. The most common substance was decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-209), in one of the analysed pots in extremely high concentration (1000 μg/g) of BTBPE (1.2-Bis (2, 4, 6-Tribromfenoxy) Ethane).

Additionally, exposure via cooking was estimated based on the results of simulated cooking experiments to determine the BFRs transfer into food. Ten of selected items showed significant transfer (20 % in average) via hot cooking oil. Estimated median exposure via cooking with BFR contaminated utensils was 60 ng/day for total BFRs. In contrast, estimated exposure via dermal contact with BFR-containing kitchen utensils was minimal.

Arnika also uses XRF spectrometry for analysing the presence of BFRs in various product categories and mentions the results in its studies. Our studies on toys and cosmetic accesories and cosmetic accesories were published as part of a recycle-free campaign in December 2017.

Translation: Marcela Kolářová. The article has been prepared based on the publication: Kuang, J., et al. (2018). "Brominated flame retardants in black plastic kitchen utensils: Concentrations and human exposure implications." Science of The Total Environment.

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