Science of the Total Environment

MARTÍNEZ-CARBALLO, E.; GONZÁLEZ-BARREIRO, C.; SITKA, A.; SCHARF, S.; GANS, O. (2007): Determination of selected organophosphate esters in the aquatic environment of Austria. Science of the Total Environment 388, 290–299


Organophosphate esters are used in multitude of applications such as flame retardants, plasticizers and lubricants. In recent years concerns have been raised in regards to the environmental impact of some of the more commonly used phosphoric acid triesters, because many of them are toxic and persistent. Liquid–liquid extraction and ultrasound-assisted solvent extraction followed by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry detection (LC−MS/MS) were used for the determination of nine priority organophosphate esters in waste and surface water, as well as in sediment samples for first time in Austria. Recoveries ranged from 63% to 94% in water and from 74 to 104% in sediment with estimated quantification limits between 2.6 and 7.9 ng/l in surface water, 4.1 and 13 ng/l in effluent waste water, and between 0.48 and 11 μg/kg in sediment. The validated method was applied to determine the occurrence of the selected organophosphorus flame retardants (OPFRs) and plasticizers in the aquatic environment of Austria. The impact of the discharge of waste water treatment plants into the receiving water bodies was also studied.


Keywords: Organophosphate esters; Organophosphorus flame retardants; Plasticizers; Effluent water; Surface water; Sediment; Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry