Sorption-desorption behavior of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in soils

Yaniv Olshansky, Tamara Polubesova, Walter Vetter, Benny Chefetz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants that are commonly found in commercial and household products. These compounds are considered persistent organic pollutants. In this study, we used 4,4′-dibromodiphenyl ether (BDE-15) as a model compound to elucidate the sorption and desorption behavior of PBDEs in soils. The organic carbon-normalized sorption coefficient (K OC) of BDE-15 was more than three times higher for humin than for bulk soils. However, pronounced desorption hysteresis was obtained mainly for bulk soils. For humin, increasing concentration of sorbed BDE-15 resulted in decreased desorption. Our data illustrate that BDE-15 and probably other PBDEs exhibit high sorption affinity to soils. Moreover, sorption is irreversible and thus PBDEs can potentially accumulate in the topsoil layer. We also suggest that although humin is probably a major sorbent for PBDEs in soils, other humic materials are also responsible for their sequestration.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2375-2379
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a research grant from the Environment and Health Fund , Jerusalem, Israel and by a joint program between the University of Hohenheim and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


  • Competition
  • Desorption hysteresis
  • Flame retardant
  • Humin
  • Irreversible sorption


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