FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Widely Used Toxic Flame Retardant Banned in Televisions and Computers Sold in Europe
Ban Sends Strong Signal To Electronics Manufacturers: Avoid Deca-BDE
A ban on all new TVs, computers and all other electrical and electronic equipment containing the toxic flame retardant deca-BDE (deca), went into effect in the European Union on July 1, 2006.
A ban on all new TVs, computers and all other electrical and electronic equipment containing the toxic flame retardant deca-BDE (deca), went into effect in the European Union on July 1, 2006. As a result, electronic products made with deca that are contaminated with a banned form of PBDEs, can no longer be sold in the European marketplace, which is likely to have implications for the U.S. market.
"The handwriting is on the wall for deca. The decision by the European Commission to ban certain products made with deca sends a signal to electronics manufacturers across the globe, as well as Washington state legislators: now is the time to move to safer, readily available flame retardant alternatives," said Laurie Valeriano of Washington Toxics Coalition, which has led the effort to ban deca in Washington state.
A legal decision issued June 21 by the European Commission found that deca is contaminated with a banned form of PBDEs found in penta-BDE (penta) and therefore equipment or electronics using deca would violate a major EU law restricting hazardous substances. Under the EU law, deca can technically still be used, as long as the product does not contain more than one tenth of one percent of the banned substance-a component of penta known as nona. However, testing shows that deca is contaminated with nona at levels as high as three percent. The industry has not yet indicated whether it will choose to reformulate deca or to utilize safer alternatives to comply with the European Commission's decision.
In addition to being contaminated with the banned substance, recent science has also shown that deca breaks down into penta and octa. Penta, and octa have been banned by the European Union and nine U.S. states. Great Lakes Chemical (now Chemtura), the only U.S. manufacturer of penta and octa, agreed to phase out those formulations in 2005.
The brominated flame retardant, deca, used primarily in television casings, is a global contaminant in humans and the environment, including remote areas such as the Arctic. Known as "chemical cousins" of PCBs, banned in the 1970s due to their toxicity to humans and animals, PBDEs are widely present in human blood and breast milk, food, household dust, and wildlife. Leading manufacturers, including Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Sony, and others have eliminated PBDEs from their products.
Seven state legislatures (CT, MN, WA, IL, HI, NY, and MI) considered bills that would ban deca in 2006. Efforts to ban deca will continue in Washington State, as a new bill will be introduced in the legislature for the 2007 session.
You can also read the European Commission's letter (73kb PDF file) explaining the decision.
Washington Toxics Coalition
Phone: 206-632-1545 ext. 114