Regulating Flame Retardants | July 16, 2012 Issue - Vol. 90 Issue 29 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 29 | p. 9 | News of The Week
Issue Date: July 16, 2012

Regulating Flame Retardants

Senators urge EPA to quickly finalize regulation for seven polybrominated diphenyl ethers
Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: EPA, flame retardants

Twenty-six senators are urging EPA to swiftly finalize a regulation for a group of brominated flame retardants.

In a letter sent last week to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, the lawmakers called a recent EPA proposal on seven polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) “an important first step toward protecting Americans from the risks posed by these pervasive chemicals.” The compounds are linked to adverse nervous system effects and disruption of thyroid hormone levels and may potentially cause cancer.

Six of the PBDEs are no longer made in, or imported into, the U.S. Albemarle, Chemtura, and ICL Industrial Products, which make the seventh chemical, decaBDE, have announced they will stop U.S. sales of the substance by the end of 2013.

EPA’s proposal under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) would require companies that intend to make or import any of the seven PBDEs, including in products, to notify the agency before doing so. In addition, any company making or processing certain commercial mixtures of PBDEs would have to conduct health and safety tests on the formulations. EPA is expected to finalize the regulation in 2013.

The 21 Democrats, three Republicans, and two Independent senators told Jackson that the time it is taking to finalize regulation for the seven compounds underscores why TSCA needs to be reformed. They said “it is concerning” that the 1976 law forces EPA to “undertake lengthy rule-making processes merely to secure additional health and safety data on a chemical of concern and to receive notifications regarding expansions of its uses.”

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