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EPA Identifies Safer Substitutes for Toxic Flame Retardants/Identified chemicals are persistent, accumulate in the environment and have reproductive, developmental, and neurological toxicity

Release Date: 06/12/2014
Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn (News media only) Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov 202-564-7849 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing safer alternatives to the flame retardants now used in consumer and commercial products, including building insulation and products with flexible polyurethane foam.

“EPA’s findings for safer alternatives is great news for consumers and industry,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We will now have safer alternatives for use in our products from furniture to car seats to building insulation.”

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.

EPA is releasing the final report on alternatives to the flame retardant HBCD and releasing an updated draft report on alternatives to the flame retardant pentaBDE. These alternatives were identified through EPA’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 United States. 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.

EPA’s Design for the Environment Alternatives Assessment Program helps industries choose safer chemicals and offers a basis for informed decision-making by providing a detailed comparison of the potential public health and environmental impacts of chemical alternatives. Throughout the partnerships, stakeholders, including chemical suppliers, product manufacturers, and non-government organizations have provided valuable information to support the development of the draft and final reports.

Information on the DfE Alternatives Assessment Program: http://www.epa.gov/dfe

Information on the HBCD final report: http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/hbcd/about.htm

Information on the foam flame retardant draft update report: http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/flameret/about.htm

Information on EPA’s efforts to better understand the risks of flame retardant chemicals: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/workplans.html