Posted on 21/08/2017 in News 32 2017
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Replacements for legacy brominated FRs

Endocrine disruptors

Human bio-monitoring network

Phosphate ester FR metabolites in urine

Organophosphorus FRs in sewage treatment plants

Maine bans “all FRs” in home furniture

Replacements for legacy brominated FRs:  A literature and data base screening carried out for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency assesses FRs used as alternatives to the legacy brominated FRs PBDEs, HBCD and TBBPA. 66 studies on alternative FRs in dust, the environment, biota and humans, and data on use and exposure for FR are considered. Ten alternative FRs are identified as priorities for screening: seven halogenated FRs TBBPA-BDBPE, DBDPE, BTBPE, TTBNPP, BEH-TEBP, EBTEBPI, TCIPP, and three phosphorus esters PBDPP = Resorcinol bis(diphenyl phosphate), para-TMPP = tritolyl phosphates, TPHP = triphenyl phosphate.

“Replacement substances for the brominated flame retardants PBDE, HBCDD, and TBBPA”, J. Gustavsson et al., report for Naturvårdsverket, n° NV-08295-16, 21st June 2017 

Endocrine disruptors: a study based on “probabilities of causation” of possible health effects (i.e. probability modelling), based on estimates by expert panels organised by the Endocrine Society, suggest that endocrine disruptor chemicals cause 1.3% of PNB in health damage and costs in Europe and 2.3% in the USA. The studies suggest that the biggest economic loss in the USA is from IQ points loss and intellectual disability estimated to be caused in children by the PBDE brominated FRs. However, a detailed 18-page critical review of suggests that the approach taken had “substantial flaws”, including self-selection of the panels of experts whose estimates were used and assumption of causal relationships between exposure and supposed health impacts not established by underlying scientific studies.

“Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the USA: a population-based disease burden and cost analysis”, T. Attina et al., Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2016
“Human cost burden of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. A critical review”, G. Bond & D. Dietrich, Arch Toxicol 2017

Human bio-monitoring network: the 5-year, 74 million €, EU funded project HBM4EU (European human bio-monitoring initiative) aims to bring together scientists, stakeholders and policy makers to define the direction of human bio-monitoring initiatives, to generate data to input to policy making and to better understand exposure – response relationships. The project will collaborate with the newly established Cefic taskforce on human bio-monitoring. A first list of nine priority families of chemicals for bio-monitoring communicated by the project includes “flame retardants”, as well as “chemical mixtures and emerging chemicals (to be defined).

European Human Biomonitoring Initiative HBM4EU

Phosphate ester FR metabolites in urine: a study by Carignan et al. (Harvard) has obtained media coverage, with media such as SpecialChem or The Telegraph UK suggesting links between FRs and infertility. The study in fact analysed five phosphate ester metabolites in urine of 211 women undergoing ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) in Massachusetts. Three of the five metabolites (DPHP, BDCIPP and ip-PPP (metabolites of TPHP, RDCIPP and mono-ITP) were found in 80%+ of urine samples (the others in less than 15%) and only two of the metabolites were correlated to lower IVF (In vitro fertilisation) outcomes (DPHP and ip-PPP).

“Urinary Concentrations of Organophosphate Flame Retardant Metabolites and Pregnancy Outcomes among Women Undergoing in Vitro Fertilization”, C. Carignan et al., Environmental Health Perspectives 2017
Organophosphorus FRs in sewage treatment plants: 14 organophosphorus FRs and plasticisers and two diester metabolites were analysed in warm sewage works (New York State). All were detected, at concentrations 0.02-30 µg/litre in influent, 0.008 µg/l in treated effluent and 0.004-7 µg/g dw in sewage sludge. Sorption to sewage particulate matter varied from <2% space to >56% (the latter for TMPP tricresyl phosphate). The three chlorinated organophosphorus FRs showed the lowest (negative) removal efficiency whereas some of the organophosphorus FRs hydrolyse rapidly in wastewater treatment and further research is needed into the fate of their metabolites.

“Occurrence, Removal and Environmental Emission of Organophosphate Flame Retardants/Plasticizers in a Wastewater Treatment Plant in New York State, USA”, U-J. Kim et al., Environ. Sci. Technol., 2017, 51 (14), pp 7872–7880 


Maine bans “all FRs” in home furniture: the US state of Maine has passed a bill (LD182) aiming to “protect fire fighters” which bans the sale of domestic furniture containing in its materials >0.1% of any flame retardant chemical, despite the State Governor’s attempt to veto the Bill as not supported by science and preventing innovative alternatives. The Bill concerns any chemical for which a “functional use is to resist or inhibit the spread of fire”, so potentially banning also inherently fire resistant materials. Industry has underlined that this will ban chemicals which are inert or recognised as safe. A similar bill is also being considered by the city of San Francisco (170867) proposing to ban all “added” flame retardants in furniture and children’s products.


“Maine bans all flame retardants in upholstered furniture”, Chemical Watch 3/8/2017 
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