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20 December 2002

 EU Allows Continued Use of the Flame Retardant Deca-BDE

On 18th December 2002, the European Parliament adopted an EU Directive restricting the marketing and use of two brominated flame retardants, penta-BDE and octa-BDE (1).  The Parliament’s decision follows adoption of the same text on 10 December by EU Ministers. 

Parliament and Council have decided to exclude from this Directive deca-BDE in view of its importance for fire safety and due to an ongoing scientific risk assessment being due to be finalised by the EU in 2003.  The Directive will consequently prohibit only octa-BDE and penta-BDE from the EU market by mid-2004.  

The risk assessment of deca-BDE has so far found no significant risk and its completion in the Summer of 2003 will be the basis for any future policy decision on deca-BDE.

Véronique Steukers, Chair of the European Brominated Flame Retardant Industry Panel (EBFRIP) stated that "EBFRIP welcomes the decision from the EU to exclude from the Directive deca-BDE, for which no significant risk has been identified either for the environment or for human health and which continues to save thousands of lives through fire prevention".

Deca-BDE is widely used to protect furniture textiles from fire sources in accordance with UK and Irish furniture fire safety legislation, which provides the consumer with highest levels of fire safety in the world.  An estimated 3,160 lives have been saved by the UK legislation alone in the period 1988-2000 (2).

End of statement

(1) 24th amendment to Directive 76/769/EEC

(2) “Effectiveness of the Furniture and Furnishings fire safety Regulations 1988”, DTI Consumer Affairs Directorate, June 2000; & updated statistics presented at FR 2002 conference “International Fire Statistics and the Potential Benefits of Fire Counter-Measures”, Emsley, Lim and Stevens, Polymer Research Centre, University of Surrey, February 2002.