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Flame Retardant Alternatives for HBCD Partnership - About this Project

About This Project | Milestones | Participants

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Draft Report

EPA, through its Design for the Environment (DfE) program, released a draft Alternatives Assessment report titled "Flame Retardant Alternatives for Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) (PDF)" (199pp, 2.31MB, About PDF) on September 24, 2013. The draft report will be available for public review and comment until November 22, 2013. Please submit comments to Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2013-0379 via www.regulations.gov.

Why did DfE conduct an alternatives assessment on HBCD?

In August 2010, EPA issued an action plan for hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) under its enhanced chemical management program. As part of the Agency's efforts to manage chemical risks, the action plan called upon the Design for the Environment (DfE) program to conduct an alternatives assessment for HBCD. The alternatives assessment compares potential human health and environmental impacts of HBCD and its alternatives and provides a basis for informed decision-making.

Read more about DfE's Alternatives Assessments.

HBCD is a brominated flame retardant that has been found to have persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) characteristics. EPA's Action Plan for HBCD has identified the chemical as persistent in the environment, bioaccumulative in living organisms, and highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Human exposure is evidenced by the presence of HBCD in breast milk, adipose tissue, and blood, and it biomagnifies in the food chain. HBCD also presents human health concerns based on animal test results indicating potential reproductive, developmental, and neurological effects. People may be exposed to HBCD from products and dust in the home and workplace, as well as its presence in the environment.

Partnership goal

DfE convened a multi-stakeholder partnership to conduct this alternatives assessment. Its goal has been to identify safer alternatives to HBCD and examine their human health and environmental profiles. The partnership includes members from various disciplines and interests to ensure that it considers a wide range of perspectives.

Participating stakeholders include chemical manufacturers, waste and recycling companies, non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, academics, fire safety advocates and firefighters, trade associations, and insulation, textile, electronics, and other product manufacturers.

Scope of the partnership

Although HBCD is used in a variety of materials, such as textiles and high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) in electronics housings, it is most commonly used as a flame retardant in expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) and extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). EPS and XPS are used as rigid foam insulation in the building and construction industry. The scope of this project (1pg, 16K, About PDF) is limited to HBCD's primary uses in EPS and XPS foam and the partnership only examined alternatives to HBCD for these uses.

Readers interested in alternatives for HBCD's secondary uses, such as in textiles and electronics housings, can refer to DfE's Flame Retardant Alternatives for Decabromodiphenyl Ether (DecaBDE) Partnership, which considers alternative flame retardants for a wider range of polymers and applications.

How do I get more information?

If you would like more information, please contact Emma Lavoie at Lavoie.Emma@epa.gov.

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