NEHA November 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

8 Volume 85 • Number 4 A D VANC EME N T O F T H E SCIENCE Introduction The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan, tests consumer products, publishes reports, and uses the data to engage with product manufacturers, brands, and retailers to eliminate chemical hazards and replace them with alternatives. This work has led to documented reductions in hazardous chemical content of products sold in the U.S. in several sectors, such as child car seats and vinyl flooring (Ecology Center, 2019; Miller et al., 2019). We use attenuated total ref lectance– Fourier-transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy to probe a range of chemicals including flame retardants, plasticizers, and bisphenols. For samples that require it, we have developed a simple passive extraction method using very low volumes of nonhalogenated solvents only. We refer to the latter technique as extraction-infrared spectroscopy (extraction-IR). We have demonstrated that ATR-FTIR of intact and extracted samples can be a rapid, inexpensive method to identify chemicals of concern in products, particularly at levels arising from intentional use. Companies that make consumer products have an interest in monitoring their products and supply chains for hazardous chemicals, as do nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and health or environmental agencies that aim to minimize exposure to substances that increase disease risk (Doherty et al., 2019; Goodwin Robbins et al., 2020; Maffini et al., 2021; Zota et al., 2017). Governmental restrictions on plastic additives across the world include specific ortho-phthalate esters (phthalates), flame retardant chemicals, and bisphenol A (BPA). Most companies maintain restricted substance lists, whose scope can go beyond legal restrictions to include unregulated chemicals of concern. In addition, NGO pressure—the pressure exerted by advocacy groups on brands and retailers to eliminate hazardous chemicals— has prompted many companies to phase out known hazards and to strengthen their corporate chemical policies and communications with suppliers (Ecology Center, 2019; Toxic-Free Future, 2021). Therefore, a rapid and inexpensive analysis tool to test for chemicals in products can be useful for product makers, retailers, NGOs, and government agencies. Commercial laboratories will test plastic items for specific chemicals using gas or liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC/MS and LC/MS, respectively), and for modest numbers of samples this approach might be feasible. When testing for intentional additives, however, FTIR can substantially reduce cost and time, particularly when large numbers of samples or on-site analyses are desired. Vibrational spectroscopies have been used previously to detect phthalates and other plasAbs t r ac t We investigated the performance of attenuated total reflectance–Fourier-transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy to rapidly identify intentional additives in a variety of items commonly handled by consumers and workers. We investigated ortho-phthalate esters, specific alternative plasticizers, and flame retardants in food contact materials and consumer products. We also investigated bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS) developers in thermal paper purchase receipts. Applications include regulatory compliance screening and product deformulation. We compared FTIR results with mass spectrometry measurements. Samples were analyzed either intact or after a simple liquid-phase extraction using small amounts of nonhalogenated solvents. These methods greatly reduced the time and expense of identifying intentionally added phthalates and other plasticizers compared with more sensitive methods. Similarly, BPA and BPS were readily identified in receipts and organophosphorus flame retardants were identified in child car seats. In some samples, FTIR detected novel or unexpected additives not detected by conventional targeted methods. These approaches are useful for screening diverse product samples for intentional additives with a relatively portable instrument while generating very low volumes of spent solvent. A Rapid Screening Method for Detecting Hazardous Chemicals in Consumer Products, Food Contact Materials, and Thermal Paper Receipts Using ATR-FTIR Spectroscopy Gillian Zaharias Miller, PhD Jeff Gearhart, MS Ecology Center