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March 21, 2023

ECHA Identifies Certain Brominated Flame Retardants as Candidates for Restriction


By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced on March 15, 2023, that it released its Regulatory Strategy for Flame Retardants, identifying aromatic brominated flame retardants as candidates for a European Union (EU)-wide restriction. ECHA states that aromatic brominated flame retardants, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are generally persistent in the environment, and that many, like decabromodiphenylether, are also known or suspected of being toxic and accumulating in people and animals. ECHA notes that their release could be minimized through an EU-wide restriction.

According to ECHA, before a potential restriction proposal, some preparatory work is required. ECHA states that this work could include an assessment of the waste stage to find out if hazardous substances are released when products containing flame retardants are dismantled, recycled, or disposed of. It could also include an assessment of the availability of suitable alternative substances or materials.

The restriction scope could cover all aromatic brominated flame retardants confirmed to be persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) or very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) through harmonized classification or identification as substances of very high concern (SVHC).

According to ECHA, for many aliphatic brominated and some organophosphorus-based flame retardants, more data are needed to determine if a restriction is necessary. ECHA states that it expects these data to be available from 2024 onward, and ECHA suggests reassessing the situation for those groups in 2025.

ECHA is not recommending regulatory action for several non-halogenated subgroups of flame retardants, including certain organophosphorus-based flame retardants, since it identified no or low hazard at this time. ECHA notes that for chlorinated flame retardants, regulatory measures are already in place or initiated.