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Longer commutes are associated with increased human exposure to tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate


Organophosphate esters (OPEs) are a class of semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) used as flame retardants, plasticizers, and anti-foaming agents. Due to stringent flammability standards in vehicles and the ability of OPEs to migrate out of end-use products, elevated concentrations of OPEs have been found in car dust samples around the world. As many residents of Southern California spend a significant amount of time in their vehicles, there is potential for increased exposure to OPEs associated with longer commute times. As approximately 70% of the University of California, Riverside's undergraduate population commutes, the objective of this study was to use silicone wristbands to monitor personal exposure to OPEs and determine if exposure was associated with commute time in a subset of these students. Participants were asked to wear wristbands for five continuous days and complete daily surveys about the amount of time spent commuting. Data were then used to calculate a participant-specific total commute score. Components of Firemaster 550 (triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, and isopropylated triaryl phosphate isomers) and Firemaster 600 (TPHP and tert-butylated triaryl phosphate isomers) - both widely used commercial flame retardant formulations - were strongly correlated with other OPEs detected within participant wristbands. Moreover, the concentration of tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCIPP) was significantly correlated with the concentration of several Firemaster 500 components and tris(2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP). Finally, out of all OPEs measured, TDCIPP was significantly and positively correlated with total commute score, indicating that longer commutes are associated with increased human exposure to TDCIPP. Overall, our findings raise concerns about the potential for chronic TDCIPP exposure within vehicles and other forms of transportation, particularly within densely populated and traffic-congested areas such as Southern California.

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