Self-regulating textile industry slashes river pollutant

Self-regulating attempts to reduce the amount of toxic flamed retardants reaching the environment appear to be working, according to a trade association for the bromine chemicals industry.

The Bromine Science and Environmental Forum (BSEF) has been piloting a Flame Retardant Voluntary Emissions Control Action Programme (VECAP) in five EU states in an attempt to demonstrate to regulators that it can reduce the emissions of toxic Deca-BDE without tightening legislation.

Deca-BDE is a brominated flame retardant used primarily in plastics and textiles but while it is extremely effective, it is also extremely hazardous and has been linked with brain and nerve damage.

The pilot programme, which aims to cover 90% of the EU’s Deca-BDE production by this time next year, claims to have reduced emissions by the textile industry by 79% and by 48% in the plastics industry.

The reductions have been made by changing working practices and installing cleaner technologies.

BSEF acknowledges that while progress has been made on reducing the amount of Deca-BDE being released, there is still a need to address the issue of emissions of other flame retardants.

It claims the lessons learned from this pilot project will put it in a strong position to do this.

“The programme was initiated by the industry in 2004 following conclusion of a 10-year EU risk assessment of Deca-BDE,” said a spokesman for the BSEF.

“Though the risk assessment concluded that no additional risk reductions measures were required, the industry recognized that its own environmental monitoring had demonstrated the potential for low but increasing levels of Deca-BDE near industrial user sites.

“VECAP, combined with an industry commitment to carry out a 10-year programme of environmental monitoring, represents the brominated flame retardant industry’s commitment to reduce to the greatest degree practical the potential for Deca-BDE emissions to the environment.”

Sam Bond

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