News Analysis

Styrofoam’s Chemistry Becoming Less Hazardous, Gradually

The world’s leading manufacturer of extruded polystyrene will phase out a toxic flame retardant around 2017 and problematic blowing agents by 2020.

Dow Chemical—manufacturer of Styrofoam, the dominant brand of extruded polystyrene (XPS)—is working to clean up this popular foam insulation on two fronts:

replacing the brominated flame retardant HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) with a less-toxic alternative replacing the high-global-warming-potential hydrofluorocarbon blowing agent HFC-134a with a fourth-generation chemical that has almost no contribution to global warming

A safer flame retardant

According to Greg Bergtold, business advocacy director at Dow Chemical, the company is moving forward with the phaseout of HBCD, which is listed as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Published August 3, 2015