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A simple and effective method has been developed for analysis of the flame retardant tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) in environmental samples by using modified soxhlet extraction in combination with silica gel clean-up, derivatization with silylation reagent and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) in selected ion monitoring mode (SIM). Satisfactory recoveries were achieved for the large volume sampling, soxhlet extraction and silica gel clean-up. The overall recovery is 79 ± 1%. The derivatization procedure is simple and fast, and produces stable TBBPA derivative. GC–MS with electronic impact (EI) ionization mode shows better detection power than using negative chemical ionization (NCI) mode. EI gives a method detection limit of 0.04 pg m−3 and enables to determine trace TBBPA in ambient air in remote area. The method was successfully applied to the determination of TBBPA in atmospheric samples collected over land and coastal regions. The concentrations of TBBPA ranged from below the method detection limit (0.04 pg m−3) to 0.85 pg m−3. A declining trend with increasing latitude was present from the Wadden Sea to the Arctic. The atmospheric occurrence of TBBPA in the Arctic is significant and might imply that TBBPA has long-range transport potential.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.