EPA draft report on potential alternatives of Decabromodiphenyl ether

Decabromodiphenyl ether is not much of a household word.  It has been used in some flame retardants but its environmental effects are far from clear.  In its quest to identify possible substitutes for a toxic flame retardant chemical known as decabromodiphenyl ether, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft report on potential alternatives. This comprehensive assessment, developed with public participation under EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program, profiles the environmental and human health hazards on 30 alternatives to decaBDE, which will be phased out of production by December 2013.

An important scientific issue is whether decaBDE debrominates in the environment to PBDE congeners with fewer bromine atoms, since such PBDE congeners may be more toxic than decaBDE itself. Debromination may be “biotic” (caused by biological means) or “abiotic” (caused by nonbiological means). In September 2004 an Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) report asserted that “DecaBDE seems to be largely resistant to environmental degradation.

As of mid-2007 two states had instituted measures to phase out decaBDE. In April 2007 the state of Washington passed a law banning the manufacture, sale, and use of decaBDE in mattresses as of 2008; the ban “could be extended to TVs, computers and upholstered residential furniture in 2011 provided an alternative flame retardant is approved.”  In June 2007 the state of Maine passed a law “ban[ning] the use of deca-BDE in mattresses and furniture on January 1, 2008 and phas[ing] out its use in televisions and other plastic-cased electronics by January 1, 2010.”

On December 17, 2009, as the result of negotiations with EPA, the two U.S. producers of decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE), Albemarle Corporation and Chemtura Corporation, and the largest U.S. importer, ICL Industrial Products, Inc., announced commitments to phase out voluntarily decaBDE in the United States

DecaBDE is a common flame retardant used in electronics, vehicles, and building materials. It can cause adverse developmental effects, can persist in the environment and can bioaccumulate in people and animals. This technical assessment can help manufacturers identify alternatives to decaBDE.

“EPA is using all of its tools to reduce the use of hazardous flame retardant chemicals like decaBDE and identify safer, functional substitutes to protect people’s health and the environment,” said Jim Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). “Virtually everyone agrees that EPA needs updated authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to more effectively assess and regulate potentially harmful chemicals like flame retardants. As EPA continues to stress the need for comprehensive legislative reform to TSCA, we are also targeting actions on a broader group of flame retardants to reduce human and environmental risks.”

On June 1, 2012, EPA released a TSCA work plan of 18 chemicals which the agency intends to review and use to develop risk assessments in 2013 and 2014, including three flame retardant chemicals. EPA is currently developing a strategy, scheduled for completion by the end of this year that will address these three and a broader set of flame retardant chemicals.

On April 2, 2012, EPA proposed actions under TSCA that will require manufacturers, importers, and processors of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants to submit information to the agency for review before initiating any new uses of PBDEs after Dec 31, 2013. Those who continue to manufacture, import, or process after December 31, 2013, would be subject to a testing requirement under TSCA. EPA is accepting comments on this proposal until July 31, 2012.

In 2009, EPA developed action plans on PBDEs (including pentaBDE, octaBDE, and decaBDE) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) that summarized available hazard, exposure and use information; outlined potential risks; and identified the specific steps the agency is pursuing under the TSCA. The alternatives analysis for decaBDE was included in the action plan.

The alternatives to decaBDE characterized in the report are already on the market and will be used increasingly as decaBDE is phased out. The alternatives have differing hazard characteristics and are associated with trade-offs. For example, some alternatives that appear to have a relatively positive human health profile may be more persistent in the environment. Some alternatives appear to be less toxic than decaBDE. Preliminary data suggests that these flame retardants may have a lower potential for bioaccumulation in people and the environment. It is important to understand that these health and environmental profiles are largely based on computer-model generated estimates, and that the models are limited in their ability to predict concern. (source: ENN)

A Comparison of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube and Decabromodiphenyl Ether Flame-Retardant

An interesting document was published by United States Environmental Protection Agency: pdf format :click here 

This document is part of continuing efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to understand the scientific issues and information gaps associated with nanotechnology, consistent with recommendations in the U.S. EPA Nanotechnology White Paper (2007) and U.S. EPA Nanomaterial Research Strategy (2009a). While no national or international consensus definition yet exists for nanomaterials, a current working definition is a material having at least one dimension on the order of approximately 1 to 100 nm (NSTC, 2011). Materials are intentionally engineered at the nanoscale to exploit the unique or novel properties that can arise from their small size.

The specific nanomaterials considered in this document are multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), as incorporated into flame-retardant coatings for upholstery textiles. This case study does not represent a completed or even preliminary assessment, nor is it intended to serve as a basis for near-10 term risk management decisions on possible uses of MWCNTs. Rather, the intent is to describe what is  known and unknown about MWCNTs in this selected application as part of a process to identify and  prioritize scientific and technical information to support future assessment and risk management efforts…

Recyclability Comparison:HIPS containing GreenArmor™ and Commercial PC/ABS containing RDP

The recycle evaluations performed on HIPS containing Earthwise™ GreenArmor.™
With the importance of electronics and electrical equipment (EEE) end-of-life (EOL), comes research to determine the viability of various EOL options. For flame retardant plastics used in EEE applications, mechanical recycle, feedstock recovery (for brominated flame retardant systems), and waste-to-energy recovery are all acceptable options. Mechanical recycle of plastics from EEE applications is growing in importance. This growth results in materials for use in the original or in downgraded applications, depending on the thoroughness of sorting, dismantling, identification, and shredding of large parts.
GreenArmor and all Earthwise products are committed to the principles of green chemistry where the entire life cycle of a product from design and innovation, to minimizing the use of raw materials and energy, through the manufacturing process and down to the final stages of recycling or reusing commercial by-products are addressed.
The recycle evaluations performed on HIPS containing Earthwise GreenArmor and commercial PC/ABS containing resorcinol diphenyl phosphate (RDP). pdf format of Albemarle report: Click HERE

What’s more important: saving lives and property or the planet? Now you can do both!

Introducing Earthwise™ (PDF file), a breakthrough flame retardant technology that saves lives, protects property and is eco-friendly.

GreenArmor is a top performance fire safety alternative for broad resin application profiles. This solution is non-toxic, recyclable and nonbioaccumulative, meaning the chemical is too large to be absorbed by the body or animal life.
GreenArmor is a highly stable product that lends itself to efficient recycling of plastics.

GreenArmor is an eco-friendly solution compared to many flame retardants currently on the market, while maintaining the premium performance product attributes.

All Earthwise products demand a more rigorous focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness. In order for a product to be introduced under the Earthwise label, it must exceed sustainability and eco-friendliness criteria, above and beyond the standards set for existing commercial products. Those criteria include bioaccumulation, toxicity, recycle capability, carbon footprint and other critical environmental metrics.

GreenArmor is non-bioaccumulative and recyclable.
GreenArmor is an innovative solution that is organically based rather than mineral-based. It is a polymer, which means the chemical is too large to be absorbed by the body or animal life. GreenArmor exists in a pelletized form, rather than in powder form; as a result, when used by manufacturers, its emissions are much lower.

GreenArmor is designed to be an environmentally preferred product. The highly stable nature of product lends itself to efficient recycling of the plastics that use it. Accordingly, the discharge of poisonous fumes to the environment during product recycling phase is minimized. (source: click here)

Flame Retardant (FR) Water-Based Acrylic Polymer for Textile

An Israeli SME has developed a flame retardant water-based acrylic polymer for various applications, mainly in textile & paint industry. Advantages over those on the market include environmental friendliness, transparency, easy incorporation in various materials, good compatibility & pH-stability etc. Looking for industrialists intending to solve fire resistance problems to meet the standards requirements applied in their countries.

In order to give properties to their mixtures / compositions, current textile and paint industry use the compounds, which contain chemically non-bound bromine.
In view of environmental protection, such mixtures are dangerous for their ability to release bromine into environmental surrounding.The company has developed and offers a flame retardant environmentally friendly mixture (polymer composition) containing a newly developed polymer with chemically bound bromine. This flame retardant (FR) polymer composition gives the user an opportunity to pass local standarts in each country with the ease of a regular acrylic binder – so, the product can be used as a regular binder in the textile and paint industry. This property of the polymer composition is unique and gives the user full flexibility to choose both substrate and durability of the application. The product is aiming to the finisher of the textile industry and to varnish producers in need of a FR properties. The polymer composition is patent protected around the world.
The company is well established and has an experience of over 25 years in polymer developments, production and distribution. The company strives to develop new nano materials with special properties under the concept of “smart carrier”.

Innovative Aspects
1. Universal water-based acrylic polymer, “smart carrier” of fire resistance property without releasing free bromine in the process of substrate (fabric, paint etc.) manufacturing.
2. The polymer is Nano-structured (produced in nanotechnology process).

Main advantages of the Offer
1. “Green” product, as compared to those on the market
2. Transparency, up to 100 %
3. Easy to use (easy incorporated in various systems / materials).
4. Compatibility with most textile finishing chemicals.
5. Good pH stability
6. Supplied as an aqueous dispersion with up to 50% solids.

Source: enterpriseeurope

Flame Retardant ABS with a Novel Polyphosphate Derived from Biomass

Scientific.NET:  In recent years, diphenolic acid (DPA) has been attracted much attention because it can be produced on large scale from phenol and levulinic acid, a potentiel platform chemical from biomass. poly(diphenolic phenyl phosphate)(poly(DPA-PDCP) was synthesized and used as in ABS as FR .

Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) was treated with various formulations containing an intumescent fire retardant, which consists of ammonium polyphosphate (APP) and a novel char-forming agent, poly(diphenolic phenyl phosphate)(poly(DPA-PDCP)). The behaviour of this intumescent system was investigated by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), LOI test and cone calorimeter test, respectively. The results showed that the addition of poly(DPA-PDCP) enhanced the thermal stability and flame retardancy of ABS/APP. The weight of residues improved with the addition of poly(DPA-PDCP) . SEM investigations of residual char burning after cone calorimeter test revealed that poly(DPA-PDCP) plays an stimulative role in the process of carbonization. The intumescent chars formed from ABS/APP/ poly(DPA-PDCP) composites were intact and strong. It is confirmed that the poly(DPA-PDCP) is an efficient char-forming agent for flame retardant ABS resin.

Flame Retardants Cause WEEE Debate amid Mixed Market Conditions

As the revision of the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive draws near, the issue of flame retardants in plastics recovered from WEEE has caused debate, while markets for recyclates are struggling in the U.S., China and India.
Speaking at the Bureau of International Recycling’s (BIR) Plastics Round-Table in Munich, Rainer Koehnlechner, owner and managing director of separation specialist Hamos GmbH of Germany, argued that it is possible to derive high-purity polymers from mixed WEEE plastics.
To make his point, Koehnlechner gave the example, sink/float technology incorporating a special salt solution suitable for subsequent electrostatic separation. Accorrding to the entrepeneur, his company has been able to separate out ABS, polypropylene and polystyrene at purity levels of more than 98.5%.

The company’s Wersag facility near Dresden has been achieving production rates of more than 2 tonnes per hour. However, he also emphasised that there are no flame retardants in these end products. In contrast, another guest speaker, Tilman Baehr from the Hamburg Ministry of Urban Development and Environment in Germany, identified brominated flame retardants as a problem component of WEEE derived plastics scrap, adding that no binding thresholds had been set for them.  Having confirmed that the revision of the EU’s WEEE Directive was “close to the finishing line,” having reached the second reading stage in the European Parliament, Baehr suggested that better sorting of the waste at the point of origin would lead to fewer restrictions down the line.


In a brief round of market reports, Gregory Cardot of Veolia Propreté in France noted a slight drop-off in activity levels since mid-October within his domestic secondary plastics market. Meanwhile, in China there had been significant problems at ports and the market was “under pressure”, he said.
BIR Plastics Committee chairman Surendra Borad of Gemini Corporation NV in Belgium again used the term “under pressure”, to describe prices in the U.S. As for the market in India, he said, this was “absolutely dormant” as many company licences to import plastics scrap had not been renewed.
However, according to Borad India’s domestic recycling industry “is doing extremely well”, and is claimed to have achieved a recycling rate of 47%, he added. Although the overall economic outlook was not too positive at present, Borad went on to predict “a golden future” for the rapidly xpanding recycling sector. In an extrapolation of available data, he arrived at the conclusion that the global recycling industry is worth upwards of $500 billion per year, and employs as many as 20 million people around the world. The industry “is growing at a tremendous rate that is faster than (world) GDP”, he concluded.  Source : Waste Management Word

Zero halogen cables meet London Tube challenges


Pinfa: London underground transport poses particular fire safety issues: as the oldest metro system in the world, the tunnels were built small, deep and long, with very few escape exists, and are used daily by millions of people. Railway systems worldwide have strict smoke and fume standards (BS6853 UK, NF 16 101 France, DIN 5510 Germany and TS 45545-2 Europe) and the London tube requirements for low smoke and toxicity are amongst the most stringent in the world. PolyOne’s ECCOH compounds provide LSFOH (low-smoke and fume, zero halogen) fire safety solutions for cables, as well as mechanical performance (mineral oil resistance IRM 903 for 7 days at 100°C, temperature rating from -40°C to +120°C) and have been accepted for installation in the London underground system. PolyOne ECCOH also includes a range conforming to the performance requirements of the nuclear industry, including radiation and chemical resistance. Read more: http://www.polyone.com/en-us/products/lsfoh/Pages/ECC0HLowSmokeandFumeZeroHalogen-LSFOH-Compounds.aspx


European Parliament gets tough on WEEE directive

The European Parliament is tightening up on electronic waste policies, adding new pieces of legislation to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive. It has voted for tougher regulations on the disposal of electronic trash, requiring each country to collect 4kg of e-waste per citizen by 2012, and to process 85 percent of all electronic waste by 2016. According to TCO Certified, the E-waste stream is growing at a rate three times faster than the overall waste stream. The organisation said that researchers estimate that the amount of global E-waste will be close to 73 billion kg annually by 2015. The fact that only a fraction of the E-waste produced today is recycled responsibly adds to the problem. Computers and office electronics account for 40 percent of lead and 70 percent of heavy metals, including mercury and cadmium, in landfills.  It said this shows not only how polluting these products are but also what a waste of resources it is, according to the Basel Action Network the average PC contains up to 27 different kinds of metals of various hazardousness. Many of these metals are scarce and getting more and more difficult and expensive to mine. Before the WEEE directive was put into force in 2008,  both manufacturers and countries would export their electronic waste illegally to third world countries, where it was disposed of in unsafe ways.  Now the European Parliament has decided that it wants a higher collection target and a separate reuse target. Both were pushed through after delays from October with a majority of 580 votes to 37.

In addition MEPs recommend a 50-75 percent recycling target, and suggested a separate re-use target, initially set at five percent. They also addressed the problem of large volumes of e-waste being falsely declared as ‘reusable’ and illegally exported to developing countries. To ensure these shipments are reduced, they want stricter inspections of deployments, as well as ensuring the exporter should carry the burden of proof that the goods are actually reusable.
According to Emma Sjögren at TCO Certified, this is especially important as these products contain halogenated substances and chemicals and materials containing chlorine and bromine are causing concern in developing countries without recycling facilities today. Uncontrolled Incineration of brominated and chlorinated compounds forms other compounds such as dioxins and furans, many of them highly toxic and, for example, carcinogenic.

Many of these substances are known to have serious health and environmental effects (most substances are not yet tested). Brominated flame retardants have been used for over 30 years to prevent the ignition of a material and limit the spread of fire,” she told TechEye.

“The purpose of flame retardants is to provide protection throughout the product lifecycle. Therefore, they are deliberately constructed not to degrade meaning that once in the environment they persist, often transported by air and water far away from the initial point of pollution.

She added that it was primarily when the IT products were scrapped that problems arise. “The substances containing bromine and chlorine leak out and, because their degradability is poor, they remain in the environment for a long time,” she said. “Only a small proportion of the world’s electronic goods are reused in a controlled way – for example, large numbers of end-of-life products are shipped to Asia or Africa where they are burned in backyards without any protective equipment – so this is a major and growing problem.”

TCO added that as long as these chemicals were used, and the recycling of electrical products are not controlled, the quantities of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants in the environment will increase. “Even if their use were discontinued today, they would remain in the environment long into the future,” Emma added. Ref: (Click here)

First mobile device without FR

One of the latest devices that Nokia has developed following the green route is the Nokia C7 smartphone, an eco lead device with a wide range of environmental features as well as new innovative materials that decrease environmental impact of the product throughout its lifecycle, including manufacturing, use and recycling. The Nokia C7 is the first mobile device in the industry to use biopaints that are free of PVC, BFR (brominated flame retardants) and RFR (chlorinated and brominated compounds and antimony trioxide).

(Ref: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=648142&publicationSubCategoryId=73)

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