[Pharmwaste] The EU has banned the Deca BDE flame retardant for the second time.

DeBiasi,Deborah dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Fri May 2 08:49:22 EDT 2008


April 30, 2008
European court bans widely used flame retardant

The EU has banned the Deca BDE flame retardant for the second time.

On April 1, the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court,
banned the use of the Deca BDE flame retardant, the only PBDE now used
in Europe and North America. The ban is set to take effect on July 1
this year.

Some experts think that the EU Deca BDE ban could impact flame
retardants used in TVs sold in North America. The compound has already
been banned for use in TVs in Maine. Deca BDE is a brominated flame
retardant used in electrical and electronic equipment. It was originally
prohibited in 2002 under the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances
(RoHS) directive. When the European Commission lifted the ban on its use
in plastics in 2005, the European Parliament challenged that decision.

"The commission is allowed to adopt exemptions from the ban for certain
applications-subject to clear criteria. The commission completely
disregarded these criteria," says Axel Singhofen, health and
environmental policy adviser to the European Green Party. "All that
matters under RoHS is the practicability of substitution with safer
substances," he adds.

The Bromine Science and Environmental Forum (BSEF), an industry group,
contends that Deca BDE is safe. "After 10 years of scientific research
and more than 588 studies conducted and/or reviewed [in Deca BDE's EU
risk assessment], both the environment and human risk assessment reports
concluded that there is no significant risk," according to BSEF.
However, Deca BDE is known to degrade into more persistent and
bioaccumulative forms of PBDEs, says Christian Farrar-Hockley of the
Health and Environment Alliance, a nonprofit group. Its presence in our
environment represents "a continuous potential threat to the healthy
reproductive development of children," he says.

"We believe the commission needs to consider how to avoid the complete
contradiction that exists between having . . . a substance being
restricted as 'hazardous' in an EU directive, when that very substance
has been found not to be hazardous by an EU risk assessment," says John
Kyte of Burson-Marsteller, the public relations firm that represents

Last year, Denmark's Environmental Protection Agency published a report
documenting at least 25 other flame retardants that could be used in
place of Deca BDE.

The European Commission accepted the European Court of Justice ban on
April 9. "The implication of the ban beyond electrical and electronic
equipment is that Deca BDE could be required to be banned or excluded
from other products," says Doreen Fedrigo, policy unit coordinator for
the European Environmental Bureau, an umbrella organization of
environmental groups. -KELLYN BETTS

Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
PPCPs, EDCs, and Microconstituents
Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028
FAX:      804-698-4032

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