The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in December that it had negotiated agreements with several companies to phase out over the next three years a popular plastics flame retardant, decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE), also known as decabromodiphenyl oxide (DBDPO) or “decabrom.” This product has been used for close to 40 years and has been studied extensively. EPA is not banning decaBDE but is encouraging its discontinued sales and use. EPA statements call it a “persistent and toxic chemical” that “potentially causes cancer and may impact brain function” and also “can degrade to more toxic chemicals that … are hazardous to wildlife.” Companies announcing that they will phase out decaBDE include Albemarle Corp., Baton Rouge, La.; Chemtura Corp., Middlebury, Conn.; and Israel’s ICL Industrial Products, said to be the largest importer of the material to the U.S. (ICL-IP America is in St. Louis.) Statements from these companies call decaBDE “one of the world’s most effective and widely used flame retardants” and note that hundreds of scientific studies show that “DecaBDE does not pose any significant risk to the environment or human health.” In fact, a European Union risk assessment in May 2008 found no need for restricting decaBDE, and the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate decided last March not to pursue any national restrictions.
As we reported last month, Albemarle recently announced an alternative FR product, called GreenArmor. Chemtura and ICL both say they are developing alternatives also, some of which Chemtura plans to introduce this year.
(800) 535-3030 • albemarle.com;
(800) 243-2650 • chemtura.com
(877) 661-4272 • iclfr.com