Heather Stapleton and Jacob de Boer, two well-known environmental scientists with a long track record of research into flame retardants, have published an opinion article in ‘Science’ outlining their position on different types of flame retardants in different applications and on fire safety. Their key concern is that the “use of halogenated flame retardants continues despite health and environment concerns”, noting that global production of halogenated FRs was stable 2010 – 2016. They note that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is currently considering a restriction on additive, non-polymeric, halogenated FRs in children’s products, furniture and electronics enclosures, which would be the first such CSPC ban on a class of products and would take account of development of new polymeric brominated FRs with lower exposure risks in use. The scientists note that alternative FRs with better environmental profiles are available (citing ENFIRO, see pinfa Newsletter n°36). They state that “no one wants to compromise fire safety” and that “flame retardants are needed in airplanes, cars, insulation and electronics” but question whether FRs are necessary or effective in some applications, in particular furniture and children’s products. They conclude that “it is crucial that the use of flame retardants is critically evaluated to determine where they are needed and where they are not”.
“Toward fire safety without chemical risk. Use of halogenated flame retardants continues despite health and environmental concerns”, J. de Boer & H. Stapleton, Science, vol. 364, issue 6437, p 231-232 https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aax3089