EU Gets Serious About Flame Retardants

The EU Commission has forbidden the export of four brominated flame retardants and three additional
substances. The chemicals have been added to Part 1, Annex V of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation. The regulation takes effect on April 1, 2018.

As of that date, chemicals and products containing tetra-, penta-, hexa-, and heptabromodiphenyl ethers in concentrations of 0.1% or greater by weight may not be exported if they have been manufactured partially or fully from used or recycled materials. With this prohibition, the EU meets its obligations under the Stockholm Convention, which limits persistent organic pollutants (POPs) now and aims at forbidding them completely in the long term.

Flame retardants that contain halogen are found in a large variety of products, even though the CLP Regulation classifies them a carcinogenic or toxic when swallowed. In a Danish study, scientists found chlorine phosphorus-based flame retardants and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the straps of bicycle helmets. And British scientists found brominated flame retardants in used plastic toys. Scientists at Plymouth University in Great Britain have published a study even more recently.

In addition to the four brominated substances, the prohibition also applies to the solvent hexachlorobutadiene (a possible carcinogen), polychlorinated naphthalenes, and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD).

For additional news (in German) about the PIC Regulation, see the publication of Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI).

The PIC Regulation covers the export and import of chemicals that are forbidden or subject to restricted use in the EU. As of February 16, 22 substances are listed in Part 1, Annex V, 186 substances in Part 1, Annex 1, and 87 in Part 2, Annex 1.

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