As part of ongoing efforts to promote the design and use of safer chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft report on alternatives to a flame retardant chemical, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), which has persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic characteristics. The findings in the report are intended to help manufacturers identify safer alternatives to the use of HBCD in polystyrene building insulation.
The Design for the Environment (DfE) Alternatives Assessment draft report describes the uses of HBCD with an overview of life cycle and exposure information. The report identifies two viable chemical alternatives for use in polystyrene building insulation, in addition to a list of substances that are not currently expected to be viable. One of the alternatives, a butadiene styrene brominated copolymer, is anticipated to be safer than HBCD and is currently in commercial production in the U.S. Alternative materials are also identified in the report.
As background, in March 2013, as part of a broader effort to address flame retardant chemicals, EPA identified 20 flame retardants for risk assessment under the TSCA work plan. This includes developing full risk assessments on four of these chemicals, including HBCD. If EPA identifies potential risks, the agency as stated it will evaluate and pursue appropriate risk reduction actions. EPA expects to begin development of these risk assessments later this year and anticipates making the draft risk assessments available for public comment and peer review in 2014.