The thermal degradation of flame retardant containing high-impact polystyrene (HIPS-Br), one of the most commonly employed plastics in electric and electronic appliances, was examined by thermogravimetry coupled with mass spectroscopy (TG-MS) in order to understand the threat that is posed by the release of hazardous brominated compounds. The HIPS samples contained decabromodiphenylether (DPE) and decabromodibenzyl (DDB) as the flame retardants as well as Sb2O3 as the synergist. The largest number of brominated compounds was obtained in the presence of DPE and Sb2O3 and DDB without Sb2O3. From the degradation of DPE, brominated benzenes, phenols, diphenylethers, and dibenzofurans were identified, and from the degradation of DDB, brominated benzenes, dibenzyls, and phenanthrenes were formed. The interaction between the flame retardant and the polymer matrix resulted in α-bromoethylbenzene. The formation of brominated dibenzodioxins was not observed, probably, due to the low phenol concentration in the polymer melt. No other report has, to our knowledge, ever reported on the formation of brominated phenanthrenes from flame retardants. Because they share similar steric features, it may well be that brominated phenanthrenes are similar in their carcinogen and mutagen potential to dibenzofurans and dibenzodioxins. A plausible mechanism for the formation of the observed compounds is presented, and the role of the synergist is considered.
- Polybrominated dibenzofurans
- Polybrominated phenanthrenes
- Thermogravimetry-mass spectroscopy-coupling