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This Site Copyright 1998 EBFRIP

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DTI Report Confirms Valuable Role of Flame Retardants in Saving Lives

The UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) published a press notice on 8 February announcing the publication of the University of Surrey report Risks and Benefits in the Use of Flame Retardants in Consumer Products. The University of Surrey report emphasises the clear benefits flame retardants bring in terms of saving lives. EBFRIP views this report as an important contribution to the scientific understanding of flame retardants. The report comes at a time when there are isolated proposals to phase-out the use of certain flame retardants. In this context, the report represents a clear warning against any rush to move out of individual flame retardants in view of the demonstrated benefits these products provide in terms of saving lives.

Background:

In 1997, the Consumer Safety Unit of the UK's Government's Department of Trade & Industry, commissioned extensive independent research into the risks and benefits of flame retardants in consumer goods. This research was commissioned in the light of concerns raised by a number of environmental groups and the Swedish government as to the potential risks posed by flame retardants to the environment and public health. The research was carried out by Dr G.C. Stevens and A.H. Mann at the Polymer Research Centre at the University of Surrey, both having extensive experience of the role of flame retardants. The research took 18 months and was published in January 1999. While the report recommends more research, the experts concluded that

1) the benefits of flame retardants in reducing the risk of fire are proven, and

2) flame retardants do not pose a threat to human health.

The report concluded that, "Examination of the toxicology of a number of the more common flame retardants used in consumer products [including DBDPEs and TBBPA] indicates that most do not pose any significant threats to human life and the environment and that the associated risks are very small in comparison with the risks of death arising from unrestrained fire processes." (Stevens & Mann, p.63)

For additional information, including a summary and instructions to order a free copy of the report, click on the University of Surrey's Polymer Research Center Web site:

http://www.surrey.ac.uk/PRC/frreport.html

15 February 1999