When this ion chromatography application on determining fluorine, chlorine, and bromine in common household products, such as plastic toys, gelatin capsules, magnetic tape, tableware, floor tiles, and garden hoses among other items, crossed my desk, I thought of this recent piece of news which said that a California watchdog group was “suing major manufacturers and retailers, including Target and Amazon.com, for selling nap mats made with a toxic flame retardant that is also a knowncarcinogen.” (Link to news story.)
I don’t know about you but I had no idea that so many of our household items have carcinogenic chemicals! Fluorine, chlorine, and bromine belong to a group of chemicals called halogens that research has shown to be carcinogenic to humans plus the incineration of household waste and goods containing these chemicals results in releasing chemical compounds that deplete the critical ozone layer in the Earth’s atmosphere (link to EPA site). The other interesting thing is that countries all over the world, including China, have forbidden the use of halogens with protocols starting in 1987 and yet we have products contaminated with these chemicals. (China enforced the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants in 2004.)
Researchers from the Chinese governmental Key Laboratory of Cluster Science at the Beijing Institute of Technology developed a routine, simple, and reliable method for the determination of three common halogens described in this research article Determination of Fluorine, Chlorine and Bromine in Household Products by means of Oxygen Bomb Combustion and Ion Chromatography, (link to abstract; only the abstract is free).
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After the researchers prepared the samples using an oxygen combustion bomb setup, they conducted the IC analysis using one of our ion chromatographs (Thermo Scientific Dionex ICS-2000 system) equipped with one of our autosamplers, a reagent-free IC eluent generator cartridge (Thermo Scientific Dionex RFIC EGCII KOH), an anion self-regenerating suppressor(Thermo Scientific Dionex ASRS 300), and an anion-exchange ion chromatography column (Thermo Scientific Dionex IonPac AS19 Hydroxide-Selective Anion-Exchange column).
Analysis was performed on over 25 samples including the types mentioned earlier and the researchers found that chlorine was found in almost all the samples, fluorine in several samples including the plastic toy, and bromine was found in 5 samples. Chromatographic runs for all samples were completed in less than 10 mins.
Do you have similar methods that you can share for the benefit of our blog readers? Do tell us in the Comments box below; we look forward to hearing from you.