HBCD Analysis

HBCD Analysis

The toxicity of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD or HBCDD) and its harm to the environment are current concerns. Here, Alfa Chemistry provides HBCD analysis and testing services to help you identify the content of brominated flame retardant HBCD in plastic products.


Significance of HBCD Analysis

HBCD Analysis

HBCD is a brominated flame retardant that is primarily used in extruded (XPS) and expanded (EPS) polystyrene foams used as insulation in the building industry. However, HBCD is persistent, toxic and ecotoxic, thus its content needs to be analyzed and regulated. As an alternative, a special polymer brominated flame retardant (Polymeric FR) was developed. It is also necessary to identify and differentiate between the two brominated flame retardants in plastics.

What Can We Do?

Alfa Chemistry is able to identify and detect HBCD in extruded (XPS) and expanded (EPS) polystyrene foam using a variety of analytical methods. The following are two commonly used qualitative and quantitative analysis methods.

X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XFR) analysis

  • XFR analysis is primarily used for qualitative screening and rapid identification of the presence of bromine and brominated flame retardants in plastics. Brominated flame retardants are indicated if bromine levels are found to be high at 5~15 ppm (0.5~5 wt%).
  • When it is determined that the plastic contains HBCD or Polymeric FR, a qualitative statement about the presence of HBCD or Polymeric FR can be made from the measurement of bromine in EPS/XPS foam by further X-ray fluorescence analysis that based on the extraction of HBCD from the foam by acetone.

Liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis

  • There are 16 possible stereoisomers of HBCD, of which α (α-HBCD), β (β-HBCD) and γ (γ-HBCD) are the most important three with different biological activities. (LC-MS/MS) analysis enables precise quantification and analysis of the three major HBCD isoforms.

Correlation of bromine content based on HBCDD quantified by LC-MS/MS and XRF analysis.Correlation of bromine content based on HBCDD quantified by LC-MS/MS and XRF analysis. [1]

Why Choose Alfa Chemistry?

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Comprehensive and systematic testing and analysis services

Research Information

Other HBCD detection methods are also under continuous development, such as nuclear magnetic resonance method can be used to identify HBCD and Polymeric FR [1], gas chromatography-mass spectrometry can be used to determine the content of HBCD. For example, Tianao Mao et al. determined the HBCD content in EPS and XPS polystyrene foam by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and the results are as follows. [2]

Chromatograms of HBCD at different injection temperaturesChromatograms of HBCD at different injection temperatures [2]

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  1. Damien Jeannerat, et al. (2016). "Discrimination of hexabromocyclododecane from new polymeric brominated flame retardant in polystyrene foam by nuclear magnetic resonance," Chemosphere 144, 1391-1397.
  2. Tianao Mao, et al. (2021). "Determination of Hexabromocyclododecane in Expanded Polystyrene and Extruded Polystyrene Foam by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry," Molecules 26(23), 7143.
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