Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been determined in 133 samples of suspended particulate matter (SPM), sediments, sewage treatment plant (STP) influents and effluents, fish and mussels from various locations in The Netherlands, as a part of a large Dutch national study on estrogenic contaminants in the aquatic environment (LOES project). Some PBBs were also analysed but not found in any of the samples at detectable levels. PBDEs and PBBs were included in this study because indications of long term effects on the balance of endocrine systems were found in the literature. High concentrations of decaBDE (up to 4600 μg/kg dry weight) were found in SPM from the Western Scheldt. These levels are possibly related to spillage during use of PBDEs in industries upstream the river Scheldt in Belgium. SPM was identified as an important carrier for higher brominated diphenyl ethers in the aquatic environment. DecaBDE was not found at detectable levels in flounder, bream and mussels. The bioaccumulation of decaBDE in these fish and shellfish samples is apparently limited. Lower brominated PBDE congeners (tetra/penta) were also found in the Western Scheldt as well as in the Rhine delta and the river Meuse, but in much lower concentrations than the decaBDE. In contrast with decaBDE, the tetra and pentaBDEs were found in biota. It was concluded that at least a small part of the PBDE can pass STPs.
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers
- Sewage treatment plants
- Suspended particulate matter