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Three Suppliers Agree To DecaBDE Phase-out

Albemarle Corp., Baton Rouge, La., and Chemtura Corp., Middlebury, Conn. -- producers of decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) -- and ICL Industrial Products, Israel -- the largest exporter of decaBDE to the United States -- have sent commitment letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to phase out production, sales and importation of the controversial flame retardant (FR) in the United States. The companies have agreed to phase out most decaBDE uses by the end of 2012, and all uses by Dec. 31, 2013. Applications include textiles, wire and cable insulation, electronics, transportation, military and others.

"Though decaBDE has been used as a flame retardant for years, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has long been concerned about its impact on human health and the environment," said Steve Owens, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "Studies have shown that decaBDE persists in the environment, potentially causes cancer and may impact brain function. DecaBDE also can degrade to more toxic chemicals that are frequently found in the environment and are hazardous to wildlife."

Albemarle now offers GreenArmor™ recyclable, eco-friendly polymer-based FR technology as an alternative to its decaBDE technology; as well as other FR alternatives it claims are "safe and environmentally sound."

Chemtura and ICL also offer other FR technologies that can replace decaBDE. Chemtura is developing sustainable FR alternatives as well.

January/February 2010