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Organophosphate esters (OPEs) are ubiquitous in the environment, but little is known about their distribution in soils. In this study, we measured 19 OPEs in soil samples collected nationwide in China for the first time. Concentrations of 19 OPEs (∑OPEs) in soils ranged from 4.50 to 430 ng/g dry weight (dw), with a median value of 36.6 ng/g dw. ∑OPE concentrations in soils were significantly higher in Northeastern (90.6, 19.1-180 ng/g dw; median, range) and Eastern/Southern China (57.4, 7.23-430 ng/g dw), areas with high population density and economic development, than those in Central (35.8, 4.80-417 ng/g dw) and Western China (29.7, 4.50-228 ng/g dw). High concentrations of ∑OPEs were found in soils collected from sites located in the most urbanized areas of China including Beijing (126 ng/g dw), Shanghai (388 ng/g dw), and Guangzhou (430 ng/g dw). Chlorinated (Cl-) OPEs were the predominant compounds, accounting for over 74.0% of ∑OPE concentrations in soils from China. In soil samples from Northeastern and Eastern/Southern China, Cl-OPEs accounted for 84.3% and 92.1% of ∑OPE concentrations, respectively. Cresyl diphenyl phosphate (CDPP) and isodecyl diphenyl phosphate (IDDP), which have been less studied thus far, were also found at measurable concentrations (0.15-0.40 ng/g dw) in soils. The Spearman's rank correlations among major aryl-OPEs in soils were significant (Rho = 0.582-0.747, p < 0.01), which suggested similar sources of environmental release of these compounds. Total organic carbon (TOC) content was not correlated with the concentrations of ∑OPE in soils (Rho = 0.036, p > 0.05). A hazard assessment for ten OPEs in soils suggested a notable risk from tris(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate (TEHP) and trimethylphenyl phosphate (TMPP). Further studies are needed to elucidate the fate of TMPP in soils.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Science of the total environment
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