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E-M:/ Widely Used Toxic Flame Retardant Banned in Televisions and Computers Sold in Europe

Title: Widely Used Toxic Flame Retardant Banned in Televisions an
For Immediate Release: July 6, 2006

Widely Used Toxic Flame Retardant Banned in Televisions and Computers Sold in Europe
Ban Sends Strong Signal To Electronics Manufacturers: Avoid Deca-BDE
 A ban on all new TVs, computers and all other electrical and electronic equipment containing the toxic flame retardant deca-BDE (deca), went into effect in the European Union on July 1, 2006.  As a result, electronic products made with deca that contain the banned form of PBDEs found in penta-BDE (penta), can no longer be sold in the European marketplace, which is likely to have implications for the US market.
"The handwriting is on the wall for deca.  The decision by the European Commission to ban certain products made with deca sends a signal to electronics manufacturers across the globe, as well as Michigan legislators: now is the time to move to safer, readily-available flame retardant alternatives," said Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center,  which has led the effort to ban deca in Michigan.
A legal decision issued June 21 by the European Commission found that deca is contaminated with a banned form of PBDEs found in penta (called nona) and therefore equipment or electronics using deca would violate a major EU law restricting hazardous substances.  In addition to being contaminated with the banned substance, recent science has also shown that deca breaks down into penta and octa, which has been banned by the European Union and eight US states. Great Lakes Chemical, the only US manufacturer of penta and octa, agreed to phase out those formulations in 2005.
Technically under the EU law, deca can still be used, so long as the product does not contain more than one tenth of one percent of the banned substance. However, testing shows that deca is contaminated with nona at levels as high as three percent.  The industry has not yet indicated whether it will choose to reformulate deca or to utilize safer alternatives to comply with the European Commission's decision. 
The brominated flame retardant, deca, used primarily in television casings, is a global contaminant in humans and the environment, including remote areas such as the Arctic.  Known as "chemical cousins" of PCBs, banned in the 1970s due to its toxicity to humans and animals, PBDEs are widely present in human blood and breastmilk, food, household dust, and wildlife.  The ready availability of less toxic and less persistent alternatives has resulted in leading manufacturers, including Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Sony and others to eliminate PBDEs from their products.
Six state legislatures (CT, WA, IL, HI, NY, and MI) considered bills that would ban deca in 2006.  Efforts to ban deca will continue in Washington State, as a new bill will be introduced legislature this fall.
More information contact: Jeff Gearhart, Ecology Center, 1-734-663-2400 ext 117

Jeff Gearhart
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI  48104
(734)663-2400 x117
(734)663-2414 fx.