EEB reaction to the Commission’s regulation on flame retardant DecaBDE

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While the EEB welcomes the Commission’s action to restrict the use of the flame retardant DecaBDE, we regret it took more than 15 years for the EU to take action. Studies published over the past two decades have found high levels of decaBDE in wildlife (such as the eggs of peregrine falcons from 1987-1999) and in human breast milk.

DecaBDE is a PBT (Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic substance). It is a very persistent and toxic chemical that accumulates in bodies over generations and is found all over the world. It has even reached remote regions like the Arctic, where little use of flame retardants is made

DecaBDE’s severe adverse health effects have been widely known for many years. As an endocrine disruptor it can interfere with the normal functioning of our hormones. It has also been shown to affect the reproductive system, alter sperm, cause genital deformities and damage the nervous system. It can also lead to problems with learning, memory and cause abnormal aging and problems with fetal brain development. This highly dangerous substance can also cause DNA damage and is a suspected cause of cancer.

All over the world DecaBDE is used as a flame retardant. It is used in all type of consumer goods and plastics such as electrical equipment, construction materials, coatings, textiles and polyurethane foam (furniture padding). It can therefore be found everywhere from the plastic covers of television sets to carpets, pillows, paints, upholstery and even domestic kitchen appliances.

Tatiana Santos, EEB Senior policy officer – Chemicals and nanotechnology, said:

“Restricting the use of DecaBDE is good news. Still, it’s disappointing to see unjustified exemptions in the final text, including for spare car parts and for aviation. This is particularly irresponsible because safer alternatives are already available on the market. Given that Boeing has accepted that DecaBDE could be completely phased out by next year, it seems like a missed opportunity to have drawn a line under this dangerous substance once and for all.”

A longer deferral period is also granted to recycled materials despite the lack of evidence supporting this decision.

For more information see the EEB’s letter to the REACH Committee members, the Commission and competent authorities from May 2016:

For more information:

Anton Lazarus, Communications Officer, European Environmental Bureau

+32 2 790 88 18

EEB reaction to the Commission’s regulation on flame retardant DecaBDE
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