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[en] Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a class of brominated flame retardants, have been widely used in many applications in industry such as automobiles, textiles, and electronics. This study focused on a quantitative substance flow analysis (SFA) of PBDEs in automobiles in order to identify their flow by life cycle and treatment pathways of PBDEs-containing materials in end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) in Korea. In addition, this study has estimated environmental releases of PBDEs in automobiles by life cycle in Korea. During this study, PBDEs were analyzed for the samples collected from several ELVs treatment facilities using X-ray fluorescence and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) methods. The system boundary for SFA of PBDEs ranged from manufacturing/trade to disposal stage of automobiles by life cycle. Based on the result of the SFA, it was found that the amount of PBDEs in automobiles were the highest in use stage (7748 ton/year), followed by production stage (1743 ton/year) in 2014. In disposal stage, automobile shredded residues (ASR) and seat fabrics were the main components with relatively high levels of PBDEs in ELVs. The major treatment methods of such components included incineration (84%), energy recovery (9%), and landfilling (6%). This research indicates that PBDEs were emitted the highest amount from interior components during the use stage of automobiles, followed by recycling processes such as dismantling and shredding. This study suggests that PBDEs in ASR and seat fabrics should be properly managed to prevent the widespread dispersion in the environment. - Highlights: • The quantitative flow of PBDEs in automobiles by life cycle was examined. • High levels of PBDEs were found in ASR and seat fabrics from end-of-life vehicles. • Environmental release of PBDEs in automobiles was relatively high in use stage. • ASR and seat fabrics should be properly managed to control PBDEs.