Flame retardants are normally added to materials such as plastics or textiles to reduce the risk of fire. They save lives, prevent injuries and property losses, and protect the environment by helping to prevent fires from starting and by limiting fire damage. Flame retardants play a critical role in making our environment safer from the life-threatening consequences of fires in homes, public buildings, public transport and cars.
Flame retardants allow longer escape times in case of a fire - it is estimated that escape times can be up to 15 times longer when flame retardants are present, providing significantly increased survival chances. By reducing fatalities in fires, as well as reducing serious injury and loss of property, flame retardants contribute significant benefits to society.
Brominated flame retardants are particularly effective, and today account for over 30% of global usage. There are over 30 bromine compounds in use today, although only a few are used in large amounts. The most common brominated flame retardants are decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca-BDE), tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). They are produced in the USA, Jordan, Israel, China and Japan, as well as in the Netherlands.
For an update on the regulatory status of brominated flame retardants in Europe, please refer to the regulatory centre.