An Irgafos® 168 story: When the ubiquity of an additive prevents studying its leaching from plastics

Plastic pollution is a source of chemical to the environment and wildlife. Despite the ubiquity of plastic pollution and thus plastic additive in the environment, plastic additives have been studied to a limited extend. As a prerequisite to a study aiming to evaluate the leaching of a common additive used as an antioxidant (Irgafos® 168) from polyethylene microparticles, an inventory of the potential background contamination of the laboratory workplace was done. In this study, Irgafos® 168 (tris(2,4-ditert-butylphenyl) phosphite) and its oxidized form (tris (2,4-ditert-butylphenyl) phosphate) were quantified in different laboratory reagents, including the plastic packaging and the powders, using Pyrolysis-GC/MS. At least one form of Irgafos® 168 was detected in all tested laboratory reagents with higher concentrations in caps and bottles as compared to the powders. Additionally, oxidized Irgafos® 168 was also found in the reverse osmosed and deionized water container used in the laboratory. The same profile of contamination, i.e. higher concentration of the oxidized form and higher concentrations in acidic reagents, was observed when comparing the reagent and their respective containers suggesting that the additive is leaching from the container into the powder. Overall, this study demonstrates that the antioxidant additive Irgafos® 168 is ubiquitous in the laboratory workplace. Plastic additives such as Irgafos® 168 can therefore largely interfere and biased ecotoxicological and toxicological studies especially using environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastics. The source, fate and effects of plastic additive from plastic debris should be carefully considered in future studies that require setting up methods to overcome these contaminations.


Microplastic, Additive, Leaching, Pyrolysis, Contamination, Irgafos 168 (R)

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Hermabessiere Ludovic, Receveur Justine, Himber Charlotte, Mazurais David, Huvet Arnaud, Lagarde Fabienne, Lambert Christophe, Paul-Pont Ika, Dehaut Alexandre, Jezequel Ronan, Soudant Philippe, Duflos Guillaume (2020). An Irgafos® 168 story: When the ubiquity of an additive prevents studying its leaching from plastics. Science Of The Total Environment. 749. 141651 (6p.).,

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