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We investigated the occurrence, compositions, and partitioning behaviors of organophosphorus flame retardants (OPFRs) in indoor dust, air, and ornamental plants in Dalian, China, to evaluate the possibility of using houseplants as indoor biosamplers of OPFRs. The mean concentrations of OPFRs in the indoor air, dust, and plant samples were 14.9 ng/m3, 18,000 ng/g, and 345 ng/g, respectively. Tris(2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP) was the dominant congener in all kinds of samples. Significant correlation was found between the concentrations of tris(1,3-dichloroisopropyl) phosphate (TDCIPP) in indoor air and plants, suggesting that ornamental plant can be used as a sentinel for certain OPFRs in the indoor air. We developed a predictive model to assess the partitioning coefficients of OPFRs between indoor air and plant. The lipid content in leaf cuticle instead of leaf organic matter was used to improve the accuracy and reliability of this assessment. Using this model, we can estimate the OPFR concentrations in the indoor air based on their concentrations measured in the corresponding indoor plant. The estimated air concentrations were generally comparable with the measured concentrations, especially for those with octanol-air partition coefficient log Koa <11.6. Indoor plants can also provide a more holistic understanding of OPFR occurrence within a home due to the relatively long-term air-foliage partitioning. The results suggest that under certain conditions indoor ornamental plants have the potential to be used as the biosamplers of OPFRs in the indoor environment due to their convenience and low-cost. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Yan Wang, Zihao Zhang, Feng Tan, Timothy F M Rodgers, Minmin Hou, Ya Yang, Xuehua Li. Ornamental houseplants as potential biosamplers for indoor pollution of organophosphorus flame retardants. The Science of the total environment. 2021 May 01;767:144433

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PMID: 33422958

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