Credit: Public Domain
The most effective and commonly used flame retardant Deca-BDE will be phased out by 2013 in the United States under a new deal between Chemtura and Albemarle Corp., its US producers, ICL Industrial Products Inc., the largest US importer, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Eco Textile News reports. The chemical is a polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) used in upholstery textiles, carpet backings, mattresses, cars, buses, aircraft, and construction materials, that can potentially cause cancer and may impact brain function:PBDEs are closely linked to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which have been banned for nearly 30 years because they can cause immune suppression, endocrine disruption, and behavioral problems. Deca-BDE's largest U.S. producer ICL Industrial Products Inc. (ICL-IP) has already started on a program to accelerate the market's transition to "sustainable flame retardant solutions," according to Eco Textile News. This includes a three-year phase-out (with a one-year extension for essential uses) of sales of Deca in the US market. Ilan Elkan, VP flame retardant business unit for ICL-IP, discusses the development and marketing of polymeric flame retardant alternatives, below.
As we evaluate the Deca-BDE-alternatives in our flame retardant portfolio, we are following emerging scientific and technological developments to identify those that meet our strict criteria for functionality, sustainability, and toxicological profile. We expect to launch new flame retardant products over the next two -three years to replace Deca-BDE in its traditional applications, and also look forward to launching other high-value 'green' products.
While the phaseout of deca in the US does not include a ban on imported products with the potentially cancerous compound, Richard Wiles, senior vice president for policy at Environmental Working Group, says "This is the beginning of the end for brominated flame retardants, it sends a signal."