By Alexandra McPherson, Beverley Thorpe, Ann Blake

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Environmentally advanced companies and some governments have promoted the phase out of brominated chemicals over the years. Fifteen years ago, industrial users in Germany agreed voluntarily to phase out the production and use of PBBs and PBDEs. Twelve years ago the international OSPAR Convention for countries in the North East Atlantic placed BFRs as a class on their list of hazardous materials. It is highly likely that some BFRs will be considered by the Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which seeks to ban or severely restrict the production and use of some of the world’s most toxic chemicals, including PCBs and DDT.

State and federal governments should implement recycling guidelines for electronic products to ensure that BFRs are not continually put into new products and that workers are protected. Materials containing brominated compounds need to be separated from end of life electronic products to reduce contamination of those materials that can be recycled and reused in new products. New technologies are emerging to de-brominate plastics prior to recycling and these must be given priority over landfilling or combustion of plastics with brominated compounds since this is likely to generate brominated dioxins in both incineration and smelting processes.

109 (Suppl 1), 49-68. 6 Rapidly rising PBDE levels in North America. Science News, December 7, 2001. 7 Lindberg, P. et al. Higher Brominated Diphenyl Ethers and Hexabromocyclododecane Found in Eggs of Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) Breeding in Sweden. Environmental Science & Technnology 2004, 38, 93-96 and Viberg. H. et al. Neurobehavioural Derangements in Adult Mice Receiving Decabrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE 209) During a Define Period of Neonatal Brain Development. Toxicological Sciences 2003 76: 112-120.

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