On 20 January 2016 the European Commission has granted authorisations to thirteen companies for two uses of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD).
The uses for which the authorization has been granted are:
- formulation of flame-retarded expanded polystyrene (EPS) to solid unexpanded pellets using HBCDD as the flame retardant additive (for onward use in building applications);
- production of flame-retarded expanded polystyrene (EPS) articles for use in building applications.
The review period of the authorisations will expire on 21 August 2017, unless the companies helding the authorization have submitted a review report by 21 February 2016.
The decision has been taken because it seems the socioeconomic benefits outweigh the risk to the environment arising from the uses of the substance and there are no suitable alternative substances or technologies available in sufficient quantities.
Since it is expected that a polymeric flame retardant, once its successful testing and certification has been completed, will become a feasible alternative and available in sufficient quantities to meet the estimated demand by 2017, the authorisation holders are required to submit a report to the Commission on a three-monthly basis on the available quantities of the polymeric flame retardant on the market and on the progress towards substitution of HBCDD.
The structure of flame retardant under test is shown below:
What are the requirements for a suitable HBCDD alternative for the uses the authorization has been granted for?
It should not be Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (not a PBT)
It should not be neither very Persistent, nor very Bioaccumulative (not vPvB)
It should provide required fire safety and mechanical performance such as maintaining PS foam properties including fire performance
It should not have negative impact on product performance
It should be compatible with existing manufacturing processes such as extruded polystyrene (XPS) melt processing and expandable Polystyrene (EPS) polymerization by using with current production systems.
It seems the brominated flame retardant above meets the requirements quite well: we’ll see.
More information @:
ECHA Commitees’ opinion on use 1
ECHA Commitees’ opinion on use 2
Source: ECHA website (www.echa.europa.eu)