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EPA IDs Alternatives to Toxic Flame Retardants

The EPA has identified safer alternatives to the flame retardants now used in consumer and commercial products, including building insulation and products with flexible polyurethane foam, to help industries choose safer chemicals.

Flame retardant chemicals such as hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and pentabromodiphenyl ether (pentaBDE) raise concerns for human health and the environment including potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effects and can be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic to aquatic organisms.

The EPA has released the final report on alternatives to the flame retardant HBCD and an updated draft report on alternatives to the flame retardant pentaBDE. These alternatives were identified through the agency’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Alternatives Assessment Program.

Butadiene styrene brominated copolymer is identified as a safer alternative to HBCD used in polystyrene building insulation and is currently in commercial production in the US. Oligomeric phosphonate polyol is identified as a safer alternative to pentaBDE. The pentaBDE report will help industry choose safer alternatives to meet product flammability standards for consumer products containing flexible polyurethane foam.

Earlier this month Kaiser Permanente said it will stop purchasing furniture treated with flame retardants, making it the first healthcare system in the US to remove these toxic chemicals from hospital furniture.


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One thought on “EPA IDs Alternatives to Toxic Flame Retardants

  1. I understand all brominated chemicals, as a class, are best to be avoided as these are highly persistent (being man-made, no organism has yet evolved to break it down). How can one brominated copolymer be deemed “safer” than another (HBCD)?

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