Mutagenic Azo Dyes, Rather Than Flame Retardants, Are the Predominant Brominated Compounds in House Dust

Hui Peng, David M. V. Saunders, Jianxian Sun*, Paul D. Jones, Chris K. C. Wong, Hongling Liu, John P. Giesy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Characterization of toxicological profiles by use of traditional targeted strategies might underestimate the risk of environmental mixtures. Unbiased identification of prioritized compounds provides a promising strategy for meeting regulatory needs. In this study, untargeted screening of brominated compounds in house dust was conducted using a data-independent precursor isolation and characteristic fragment (DIPIC-Frag) approach, which used data-independent acquisition (DIA) and a chemometric strategy to detect peaks and align precursor ions. A total of 1008 brominated compound peaks were identified in 23 house dust samples. Precursor ions and formulas were identified for 738 (73%) of the brominated compounds. A correlation matrix was used to cluster brominated compounds; three large groups were found for the 140 high-abundance brominated compounds, and only 24 (17%) of these compounds were previously known flame retardants. The predominant class of unknown brominated compounds was predicted to consist of nitrogen-containing compounds. Following further validation by authentic standards, these compounds (56%) were determined to be novel brominated azo dyes. The mutagenicity of one major component was investigated, and mutagenicity was observed at environmentally relevant concentrations. Results of this study demonstrated the existence of numerous unknown brominated compounds in house dust, with mutagenic azo dyes unexpectedly being identified as the predominant compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12669-12677
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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