The RoHS Directive and Deca-BDE

The restrictions placed on PBB flame retardants in effect followed existing industry practice, the brominated flame retardant industry having voluntarily ceased production of these substances in 2000.

The situation for PBDE flame retardants is more complex. Penta-BDE and Octa-BDE were already banned for use in the European Union since August 2004, under existing legislation, and have not been produced globally since 2004.

Deca-BDE was specifically exempted from the RoHS Directive on 15 October 2005 (Click here for the official Decision). This decision was taken by the European Commission on the basis of the conclusions of the Deca-BDE Risk Assessments on environmental and human health, which had concluded no need at present for additional measures to reduce risk to consumers. The Commission also noted that industry is implementing a voluntary emissions reduction programme. The European Commission also took into consideration the conclusions from a stakeholder consultation, taken place in July 2004, where a significant majority of responses (85%) were in favor of exempting Deca-BDE (please see DG Environment website).

In January 2006, however, the European Parliament and Denmark launched legal proceedings against the European Commission for it's exemption of Deca-BDE from the RoHS Directive. On 1 April 2008, the European Court of Justice annulled the Commission Decision on the basis that procedural errors were made when establishing the exemption. As of July 2008, therefore, Deca-BDE can no longer be used in electronics and electrical applications as decided by the European Court of Justice. EBFRIP has expressed disappointment at this outcome, and is waiting to see what action the Commission will now take to rectify what is an anomalous situation. industry users can in any case apply for temporarily exemptions for certain applications under the procedure laid out in article 5 of the RoHS Directive.