Organophosphate Esters in Sediment of the Great Lakes

Dandan Cao, Jiehong Guo, Yawei Wang, Zhuona Li, Kang Liang, Margaret B. Corcoran, Soheil Hosseini, Solidea M.C. Bonina, Karl J. Rockne, Neil C. Sturchio, John P. Giesy, Jingfu Liu, An Li, Guibin Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


This is the first study on organophosphate ester (OPEs) flame retardants and plasticizers in the sediment of the Great Lakes. Concentrations of 14 OPEs were measured in three sediment cores and 88 Ponar surface grabs collected from Lakes Ontario, Michigan, and Superior of North America. The sum of these OPEs (Σ14OPEs) in Ponar grabs averaged 2.2, 4.7, and 16.6 ng g-1 dw in Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Ontario, respectively. Multiple linear regression analyses demonstrated statistically significant associations between logarithm concentrations of Σ14OPEs as well as selected congeners in surface grab samples and sediment organic carbon content as well as a newly developed urban distance factor. Temporal trends observed in dated sediment cores from Lake Michigan demonstrated that the recent increase in depositional flux to sediment is dominated by chlorinated OPEs, particularly tris(2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCPP), which has a doubling time of about 20 years. Downward diffusion within sediment may have caused vertical fractionation of OPEs over time. Two relatively hydrophilic OPEs including TCPP had much higher concentrations in sediment than estimated based on equilibria between water and sediment organic carbon. Approximately a quarter (17 tonnes) of the estimated total OPE burden (63 tonnes) in Lake Michigan resides in sediment, which may act as a secondary source releasing OPEs to the water column for years to come.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1441-1449
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 7 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was part of the Great Lakes Sediment Surveillance Program (GLSSP). This work was supported by a Cooperative Agreement from the U.S. EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative with Assistance No. GL-00E00538 (EPA Program Officer Todd Nettesheim), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21625702, 21407157), the National Basic Research Program of China (2015CB453102), and the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Science (XDB14010400). J.G. and S.H. were also supported by the Predoctoral Fellowship provided by the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Prof. Giesy was supported by the Canada Research Chair program, the 2012 "High Level Foreign Experts" (#GDT20143200016) program, funded by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the P.R. China to Nanjing University and the Einstein Professor Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship in the School of Biological Sciences of the University of Hong Kong. We thank the crews of R/V Lake Guardian for assistance during sediment sampling.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


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