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Flame retardants

Toxic Flame Retardant to be Phased Out, Says EPA

Sunday, January 24, 2010 by: E. Huff, staff writer
Tags: flame retardants, EPA, health news

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(NaturalNews) A common flame retardant chemical, Decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca), is set to be phased out of use in consumer products in the next several years. Three large chemical companies that produce and use the toxin, in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have arrived at a voluntary agreement to stop producing Deca by December 2012 and eliminate all usage of it completely in 2013.

Deca has been detected in food, dust, and samples of human serum and breast milk. Because exposure can cause severe neurological problems and behavioral abnormalities, especially in babies and children, removing it from industrial use is a top health priority.

Production of Deca also produces two other byproduct bromides, Penta-BDE and Octa-BDE, that are potentially even more dangerous than Deca. Most brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are implicated in causing cancer, auto-immune diseases, diabetes and other illnesses because they bio-accumulate in the body over time.

Representative Chellie Pingree from Maine's First District introduced House Resolution 4394, The Deca-bromine Elimination and Control Act, that would mandate the elimination of Deca usage by 2013. Shortly after its introduction, the EPA made its voluntary pact with Chemtura, Albemarle, and ICL Industrial Products to voluntarily remove the chemical from production by that time.

Millions of pounds of Deca are used every year to create plastic pallets for transporting food. Contamination from pallet dust and other residue is a serious concern that Pingree and others are trying to address.

Rep. Pingree is moving forward with her bill despite the voluntary agreement, citing past failures of industry to honor its word in complying with voluntary protocols. Her bill will also ensure that only safe alternatives to Deca will be permitted for use following its removal, eliminating the chance that another toxic chemical will take Deca's place once it is outlawed.

A report from the Washington State Department of Health found that there are already safe, non-chemical alternatives to Deca that work effectively as flame retardants in consumer electronics and furniture. These include two phosphate-based retardants, resorcinol bis diphenyl phosphate (RDP) and triphenyl phosphate (TPP).

Many experts and health advocates are hoping that Congress will enact massive reform of the nation's toxic chemical laws in order to eliminate the many toxic chemicals that are commonly used in consumer products, food materials and packaging. Until such a task is accomplished on a wide scale, individual chemicals like Deca will have to be banned legislatively, one by one.

Sources for this story include: http://www.ewg.org/Flame_Retardant_Chemical_...
http://pingree.house.gov/2009/12/congresswom... http://www.cleanproduction.org/library/WA_St...

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