Faculty of Biology
PhD thesis: Ecotoxicological effects of polymeric and monomeric brominated flame retardants and their degradation products
Flame retardants are chemicals which are nowadays added to many materials to comply with fire safety regulations. In many countries around the world, flame retardants are included in materials like textiles, electronic devices or building materials. A large part of the flame retardants currently used, are brominated substances: so called brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Environmental contaminations by these BFRs are considered problematic due to the chemicals persistent, bioaccumulative and potentially toxic properties.
Currently, the main BFR used in polystyrene insulation materials in the EU and the US is a polymeric BFR. Due to its polymeric structure, this substance shows a decreased migration behavior from its polystyrene matrix and a very low biological availability. However, it was shown that the polymer can be broken down by abiotic degradation processes into various monomeric degradation products.
In my dissertation the ecotoxicological effects of the resulting mixture of degradation products is studied, to further ensure a responsible use polymeric BFRs in building insulation materials with minimal risks to the aquatic environment. Furthermore, potential effects of monomeric BFRs, which could be used as alternatives to polymeric substances are investigated.
My dissertation is financed by a scholarship of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung.