Halogenated Flame Retardant Chemicals
Halogenated Flame Retardants
• Halogenated flame retardants are chemical compounds containing chlorine or bromine bonded to carbon.
• They are used in commercial and consumer products to meet flammability requirements.
• Many are persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic.
• Their value in preventing fires is questionable.
• The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) has banned 21 chemicals, all are halogenated.
Related Structures. PBDEs, used primarily as flame retardants in furniture, are structurally similar to the known human toxicants PBBs, PCBs, dioxins, and furans. In addition to having similar mechanisms of toxicity in animal studies, they also bio-accumulate and persist in both humans and animals.
Uses (in order, by volume in the U. S.)
• Insulation in Buildings
• Polyurethane foam
• Wire and cable
• Halogenated flame retardants, many of which are persistent and bio-accumulative, have been shown to cause reproductive, thyroid, endocrine, developmental and neurological disorders including decreased fertility, birth defects, learning disorders, and hyperactivity in animal studies. They are ubiquitous in wildlife and the environment and in nearly 100% of the US population. New health studies suggest they can cause a decrease in IQ, reduced fertility, and hormonal changes in humans.
• Californians have higher levels in their house dust and body fluids than residents of other states and countries due to TB117, a unique open flame furniture flammability requirement.
Source: Elevated House Dust and Serum Concentrations of PBDEs in California: Unintended Consequences of Furniture Flammability Standards. Zota, Ami R., Rudel, Ruthann A., Morello-Frosch, Rachel A., and Brody, Julia Green, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2008, 10.1021/es801792z
"Halogenated flame retardants possess many of the same chemical properties as PCBs. We can learn from the PCB experience that once released into the environment, halogenated flame retardants will present very challenging and expensive cleanup measures.” Dick Luthy, Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
• Haloginated flame retardants in Top of the Food chain predators world wide.
• The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) scientists, state that PBDEs are found in sediments and bivalves in all United States coastal waters and the Great Lakes, with elevated levels near urban and industrial centers causing concern to U.S. coastal ecosystems.
Better Fire Safety Strategies:
• Preventing fire ignition is less expensive, more effective, and healthier than adding toxics to slow ignition
• Fire deaths in the US are rapidly declining due to:
- 50% decrease in cigarette consumption since 1980
- Enforcement of improved building, fire and electrical codes
- Increased use of sprinklers and smoke detectors
- Introduction of fire-safe cigarettes and candles
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