DENMARK: Strategy for brominated flame retardant action published

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to see international regulation of brominated flame retardants as well as the elimination of all types of PBDE, pending further study.


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Publishing a draft national action plan for flame retardants, the Danish EPA acknowledges that national control of brominated flame retardant (BRA) production will have little impact, since imported goods contribute the majority of BRA content in the country.

The EPA would like to see international agreement on regulating the chemicals and believes that progress toward EU regulation is imminent. “When risk assessments on these substances are complete it will be easier to reach agreement at the EU level,” Lea Frimann Hansen of the Danish EPA told edie. The UK Government will present its risk assessment of penta-BDE to member states next month.

Penta-BDE is one of three types of PBDE in commercial use. The other two are octa-BDE and deca-BDE. The EPA’s strategy suggests phasing out the latter two forms of PBDE as a precautionary measure. “At the moment we can’t say there is no risk, so that’s why we will have the whole group [of PBDEs] reduced and phased-out,” says Hansen. “They are all persistent in the environment.” Hansen says that more research into octa-BDE and deca-BDE is required to assess fully their impact.

More research is also needed on the most common Danish flame retardant TBBPA (tetrabromobishpenol A), according to the EPA. Greenpeace Denmark has criticised the strategy for failing to recommend action on TBBPA. “We haven’t got enough information on TBBPA,” argues Hansen, who says that research may result in TBBPA being phased-out or restricted. “We have found it in the environment, but not in blood or hair yet,” says Hansen. “If we find that kind of information [presence in blood or hair] then we will act [see related story].”

Two Danish studies looking at the environmental and health impacts of other existing BRAs and BRA alternatives will be published within the next few weeks. The EPA is adamant that the risks of BRA alternatives be understood. “We have to point out to industry what direction we would like it to take with alternatives,” says Hansen.

The national draft action strategy on BRAs will be posted on the Danish EPA’s website in English within the next few days.

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