Op-Ed

On a Brominated Flame Retardant Ban

August 1, 2004

Additional research would have revealed that the European Union disagrees with

EBN’s recommended general ban on certain brominated flame retardants (see

EBN

Vol. 13, No. 6)—which, through its generalization, could be dangerous for your readers, other builders, and their customers by reducing fire-safety protections.

After ten years and many millions of dollars, on May 28, 2004, EU Member State policy regulators issued a favorable European scientific risk assessment of the widely used flame retardant deca-BDE, reaffirming its use without restrictions. The risk assessment is now closed, and the EU Member States’ acceptance of this comprehensive review reflects a commitment to science-based decision making.

As for

EBN’s concern over other materials, a voluntary phaseout of the penta- and octa-BDEs by their sole manufacturer will take place at the end of this year, leading to decreasing detection of those materials in the environment over time.

In 2000, there were over 4,000 U.S. fire deaths. Yet 280 lives are estimated to have been saved in that period thanks to the use of brominated flame retardants. Clearly, the best solution is to prevent fires from starting—and flame retardants can prevent a life-threatening fire from igniting, reduce flame spread and slow the burning rate, and reduce the quantity of smoke produced.

Continued responsible use of deca-BDE as a flame retardant will continue to save lives and alleviate suffering, thus making it an effective fire-safety material for your readers.

Peter J. O’Toole

U.S. Program Director

Bromine Science and

Environmental Forum

Washington, D.C.Editor’s Note:See page 6 for more on the EU Risk Assessment of deca-BDE.

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