Issue Date: October 29, 2012
UN Calls For Phaseout Of Flame Retardant
A United Nations panel of scientific experts on Oct. 19 recommended a worldwide phaseout of the sale and use of the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The panel, however, also recommended an exemption for the main use of HBCD—as an additive to expanded and extruded polystyrene used for insulating buildings. The panel said the exemption would allow countries time to phase in safer flame retardants for this use (see page 39). The chemical is also used in textile coatings and in polystyrene for electrical and electronic equipment. Published studies show that HBCD is toxic to aquatic organisms, can disrupt thyroid hormone in laboratory animals, and persists in the environment. It has been detected in human breast milk, fat tissue, and blood. Governments will decide at a meeting next year whether to phase out HBCD under the Stockholm Convention.
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