Posted on 12/05/2016 in News 32 2016
Denmark publishes screening of flame retardants

The Danish Government has published three reports on flame retardants: “Fire safety requirements and alternatives to brominated flame retardants,” “Pre-screening of REACH registration dossiers for nine brominated flame retardants” and “Environmental and health screening of phosphorus flame retardants.” The Government website states that “electronics, construction, transport and offshore are among the sectors to most use brominated flame retardants …

GreenScreen® can be used by importers and manufacturers to risk assess chemicals, in order to facilitate deselection and substitution of dangerous flame retardants in their products.” The report on screening of phosphorus-based flame retardants, presents an adaptation of the GreenScreen method to the European context, and applies this to PIN phosphorus flame retardants. An initial list of 88 phosphorus flame retardants was reduced to 28 based on US EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) conclusions and on criteria of use status, fire safety performance, REACH registration. The pinfa Product Selector was used to define applicability of the selected FRs to different materials. Three of the 28 PIN phosphorus FRs assessed obtained Benchmark 4 or 3 (Safer or Use but opportunity for improvement) – that is ammonium polyphosphate, poly[phosphonate-co-carbonate] and phosphinic acid, aluminium salt. Sixteen were assessed as Benchmark 2 (Use but search for safer substitutes) and 13 as Benchmark 1 (Avoid) – in particular the aryl phosphates. The report suggests that an intermediate Benchmark “1½“ would be useful to better distinguish between the currently Benchmark 2 chemicals. One pinfa member company has identified and communicated to the Danish authorities some confusion in the report between blends of chemicals (commercial FR products) and pure chemicals. Furthermore, the report includes adjustments to the GreenScreen methodology which make it difficult to compare benchmarks with previous assessments or to understand the reasons for different benchmarks.

The report on alternatives to brominated flame retardants states as its objectives: “to support the phase-out or reduction in the use of brominated flame retardants”. This report concludes that alternative PIN flame retardants are already developed and on the market for a majority of products in the sectors of E&E, construction, transport and shipping. However, some challenges remain, such as EPS (expanded polystyrene). The use cost of PIN flame retardants is not considered to be significantly higher, but there can be significant transition costs as user industries may need to adapt production processes, and carry out new fire and product performance tests in order to ensure that substitutes are effective. Specific detailed information is provided on substitution and PIN flame retardants for building insulation materials, cables, profiles – composites – films and sheets, E&E wiring boards and enclosures.

Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark website 25th January 2016 “Three new reports examining flame retardants and looking at new tool to assess risk substances”
Denmark Ministry of Environment and Food – Environmental Protection Agency – LOUS (List of Undesirable Substances) follow-up reports, 2016:
• “Pre-screening of REACH registration dossiers for 9 brominated flame retardants”, 74 pages, Environmental project No. 1821, ISBN: 978-87-93435-21-6
• “Fire Safety Requirements and Alternatives to Brominated Flame-Retardants”, 72 pages, Environmental project No. 1822, ISBN: 978-87-93435-22-3
• “Environmental and health screening profiles of phosphorous flame retardants”, 260 pages, Environmental project No. 1823, ISBN: 978-87-93435-23-0

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