Experts back BPA, deca-BDE restrictions EU scientists have backed proposed new restrictions on two widely used chemicals, the toxic flame-retardant deca-BDE and the endocrine-disruptor BPA.
Deca-BDE is persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic and these properties, as well as its “widespread occurrence in the environment and wildlife” justify the proposed ban, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said on Thursday as it announced its risk assessment committee’s decision.
Deca-BDE can also be toxic to the nervous systems of mammals, including humans, it added.
It is already restricted in electrical goods in Europe but it is used in other sectors including construction, transport and textiles, where it used to treat upholstery and curtains to make it harder for them catch fire.
If the European Commission and member states follow the scientists’ advice and adopt the proposed ban, the manufacture, use and sale of deca-BDE and products containing it in concentrations over 0.1% would no longer be allowed. Some exemptions would apply, including for second-hand goods and the aviation sector.
Norway is leading a global push to ban deca-BDE under the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants because of the hazard it poses to human health and the environment, but a decision at UN level is not likely until 2017.
As deca-BDE degrades in the environment it breaks down into other chemicals which are also toxic and have already been banned under the Stockholm Convention.
A spokeswoman for the brominated flame retardant industry said alternatives were now available to deca-BDE which would "ensure that the same applications can continue to meet fire safety requirements".
The risk assessment committee, which comprises scientists appointed by member states but acting independently, also backed France’s proposal to ban BPA in till receipts. This is justified because the risk to cashiers handling the receipts is not adequately controlled, it said.
But it did not find that there is a risk to consumers from the same use. BPA acts as a developer for dye in thermal paper, which is used in till receipts.
ECHA’s socio-economic committee will take a decision on the BPA proposal in December, after which the European Commission and member states must decide whether to implement a restriction.
ECHA said earlier this year that current exposure levels to BPA do not pose a health risk.
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Follow Up: ECHA statement