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April 2002

 

Dutch ban on flame retardant - clarification
 

The Dutch Environment Ministry recently adopted a regulation banning a flame retardant chemical named Bis(2,3-dibromopropyl ether) of tetrabromobisphenol (BDBPT).

The decision by the Dutch Environment Ministry for a temporary phase-out of BDBPT is pending on new scientific data. This regulation is currently the subject of two court actions in the Netherlands on the grounds that the Ministry has not provided any evidence of environmental or health concern related to BDBPT.  The regulation is also under scrutiny at EU level as an unjustified barrier to trade of a lawfully traded product.  This follows complaints sent to the Dutch authorities by the governments of France, Germany and the UK, as well as by the European Commission.

  • Distinct applications:

BDBPT is a distinctly different substance to the flame retardant Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA).  The Dutch regulation banning BDBPT therefore does not affect trade in TBBPA or products containing TBBPA.

BDBPT is used as an additive flame retardant in two applications:

1. Polypropylene wastewater piping in construction applications.

2. Polypropylene kitchen hoods, to prevent fire ignition (e.g. from cooking oil).

These applications help reduce the fire load within buildings and households and enables polypropylene to comply with fire safety standards.

BDBPT is not used in the electrical and electronic industry.

By contrast, TBBPA is mostly used in electrical and electronic equipment as a reactive flame retardant in printed wiring boards (an estimated 96% of which contain TBBPA). TBBPA is also used as a reactive or additive flame retardant in plastics components and housings e.g. in printers and computers monitors.

  • No legal restrictions against TBBPA:

There are no legislative restrictions on the use of TBBPA anywhere in the world. Indeed, the draft EU Directive on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment does not introduce any restrictions on TBBPA.

An EU risk assessment of TBBPA is currently under way and a first draft Risk Assessment Report is expected at the end of 2002.

For more information on TBBPA, please refer to the appropriate data sheet on BSEF website: http://www.bsef-site.com/docs/tbbpa.pdf