The hazardous flame retardant HBCDD banned in EU – with exemptions



In News posts from March 2, March 18, April 25 and June 13, 2014 the background for the interests in this hazardous chemical HBCDD were explained. A popular review is available: HBCDD_blue_2013_final

Among others the authorisation process in the EU was explained, which has recently come to a preliminary end.

In the European Commission Regulation No. 143/2011 of February 17, 2011, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) and 5 other chemicals were added to the Candidate List (Annex XIV) of the REACH Regulation to be banned by 21 August 2015, unless an authorisation before had been granted to individual companies for their use.

In May 2013 the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention decided to list HBCDD in Annex A (phase-out) to the Convention. The official notification came on  November 26, 2013 and the decision entered into force worldwide on November 26, 2014.

On May 14, 2014, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) opened a public consultation on the possible authorisation of continued  use of  HBCDD in the two related applications:

  • Formulation of flame retarded expanded polystyrene (EPS) to solid unexpanded pellets using hexabromocyclododecane as the flame retardant additive (for onward use in building applications)
  • Manufacture of flame retarded expanded polystyrene (EPS) articles for use in building applications.

On  January 13, 2016, the European Commission granted the 13 applying companies the authorisation to use HBCDD in the building applications mentioned above.  The authorisation runs until 21st August 2017, before then a new assessment will be done. Every third months the industries shall submit a report to the Commission about the amount of HBCDD consumed, and the progress of the substitution of HBCDD with a polymeric alternative. Surprisingly there was no identification requirement!

This decision was formally adopted in the Commission Regulation (EU) 1016/293 of March 1, 2016. The final sunset date was November 26, 2019 as in the Convention. In addition it is mentioned in the preamble that

  1. Since nobody has applied for authorisation of continued use of HBCDD in extrudable polystyrene (XPS), that use is no longer permitted.
  2. A threshold limit should be set for HBCDD occurring as an unintentional
    trace contaminant in substances, preparations and articles. In order to take account of technical developments, this threshold limit should be reviewed by the Commission within 3 years from the date of entry into force of this Regulation with a view to lowering the threshold.
  3. It was further required that expanded polystyrene containing HBCDD placed on the market can be easily identified throughout its life cycle by labelling or other means. Thus the identification requirement is finally included!

In October 2015, the Chemtura Corporation, a main producer of HBCDD, announced a stop of manufacture and sale of HBCDD. In stead, the company now produces a “greener” polymeric alternative called “Emerald Innovation™ 3000”.

This post is also available in: Danish

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