Phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in retail stores
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Retail stores are an environment with a rich diversity of toxic chemicals typically found in consumer products. Among these chemicals, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) are an important class with great health concerns. Phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are high production volume SVOC chemicals pervasively used in plastics and other consumer products. Exposure to them may cause serious adverse health effects, including endocrine disruption. They, however, have not been widely studied in retail environments. In this study, indoor air samples were collected from 15 retail stores in Austin, TX and University Park, PA. Some of these stores were revisited on different temperate seasons to account for weather variability. Indoor concentrations of the most ubiquitous pollutants were correlated with several building characteristics, including retailer type, temperature, and building use characteristics. Collected data shows a wider variety of phthalates and PBDEs, as well as higher indoor airborne concentrations for large department stores as compared to grocery stores, which typically have fewer sources in comparison.