The efficiency of pressurized solvent extraction (PSE) was investigated by comparing PSE with automated Soxhlet extraction. Sediment samples containing polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) were processed in the Speed Extractor E-914 for PSE and in the Extraction System B-811 for automated Soxhlet extraction. Quantification of PBDEs was performed by GC-MS.
This study shows that both techniques are comparable in terms of accuracy, recovery and reproducibility and confirms that PSE is a much faster technique consuming much less solvent than automated Soxhlet extraction.
PBDEs are organobromine compounds used as flame retardants to improve fire safety in domestic and commercial applications. The production of PBDEs has increased rapidly over the last 30 years due to the growing popularity of personal computers and other electronic equipment.
By 2004, penta- and octa-BDEs were phased out of production by manufactures in the United States and Europe, but deca-BDE continues to be used in high amounts worldwide. PBDEs are non-covalent additives and leach from items through use, volatilization or abrasion and enter the environment. Because of their persistence and lipophilicity, PBDEs enter the food chain and accumulate in biologic tissues. They have been found in the air, soil, oceans, lakes, and in animal tissues throughout the world with increasing levels over time. In humans, contamination was observed in blood, breast milk and fat tissues.
Animal studies show that exposure to PBDEs causes endocrine disrupting effects, affects reproductive processes, reduces immune system performance, and there is also evidence of neurotoxicity.