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Australian Government: National Measurement InstituteAustralian Government: National Measurement Institute
National Measurement Institute
      

Dioxins, Furans, PCBs and PBDEs

Industry air pollutionDioxins are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) formed as unintentional by-products of industrial processes involving chlorine such as waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing, smelting and pulp and paper bleaching where elemental chlorine is still used in the process.

PCBs on the other hand are commercially produced and used in a number of industrial applications including insulating fluids or resins in transformers and capacitors, heat transfer fluids, hydraulic fluids, solvent extenders, flame retardants and dielectric fluids. The production of PCBs was banned in western countries in the late 1970s but they still persist widely in the environment.

The polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a prominent family of brominated flame retardants and are produced in three commercial formulations based on the amount of bromination in the mixture. In many cases, PBDEs are not chemically bound to consumer products and are released to the environment through indoor air, household dust and during e-waste and textile recycling. Once in the environment PBDEs bioaccumulate in the food chain and can be detected in humans.

NMI analyses dioxins, furans, PCBs, PBDEs and other POPs in a range of materials at ultra-trace levels. This initiative ensures our technical leadership in the Australian analytical market and exemplifies our continued commitment to the support of trade and industry, environment and public health. We:

  • were Australia’s first supplier of analytical services for ultra-trace level testing of dioxins, furans, PCBs, and PBDEs and completed the first phase of the Australian Government's National Dioxins Program
  • provide competitive pricing, turnaround times in-line with international laboratories and full analytical reports tailored to meet customer requirements (during 2008–09 we averaged 18 days for reporting samples with 83% on-time performance) 
  • have NATA accreditation for dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs, and PBDEs in soils/sediments and waters, emissions from stationary sources and ambient air, dairy and dairy products, meat and meat products and fish oils
  • have further developed our range of capabilities in the measurement of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) which are listed by the United Nations Environment Programme
  • are approved by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service for the importation of soil, sludge, sediment, rock, sand, gravel, dust and waters from all countries  

We utilise dedicated state-of-the-art instrumentation, ensuring the specialist staff at NMI are able to offer you a service with the lowest risk of contamination and the security of knowing your results have the highest possible integrity. We also pride ourselves in excelling in customer-focused communications by providing a personalised service and dealing directly with clients both nationally as well as internationally.

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Several research projects are currently underway which focus on establishing POP levels in humans and the environment, using direct sampling and ‘passive’ sampling methods to enable extremely low detection limits.

For further information email dioxins@measurement.gov.au, 1300 722 845 or use our on-line form.