US EPA to Propose DecaBDE Phaseout PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Buetow   
Thursday, 07 January 2010 11:30
WASHINGTON -- Later this year, the US Environmental Protection Agency says it will begin the process to convince users to voluntarily phase out  the polybrominated diphenyl ether chemical known as decaPBDE.

DecaBDE, or "deca," is common to printed circuits board laminates, in which it is used as a flame-retardant. While deca has long been regarded as benign in finished products, the EPA says it will support and encourage the voluntary phaseout of its manufacture and import beginning this year, with complete eradication (with limited exceptions) by Dec. 31, 2012.

The EPA also announced plans to propose late this year a rule to add commercial PBDE mixtures and the congeners they contain to a list of chemicals presenting an unreasonable risk to health or the environment.

The agency also plans to begin study of alternatives for decaBDE.

IPC, a printed circuit board industry trade group, has in the past cited the literature as supporting continued use of decaBDE. Pointing to an risk assessment of decaBDE and various environmental and human risk assessment reports, including studies by the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization, IPC said the conclusions are that "the chemical presents no significant risk on these areas," adding the studies show the risks to be "insignificant."

A study by Canadian researchers, however, found high levels of decaBDE in indoor environments, in some cases 20 times higher than outdoors, leading some analysts to conclude the notion that PBDEs do not easily escape finished products may be flawed.

Fern Abrams, IPC director of government relations and environmental policy, told CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY, "In the past, IPC has opposed decaBDE regulation due to lack of scientific evidence.  However, repeated attempts to identify IPC members using decaBDE resulted in a nil set.  Furthermore, given the EU ruling on Deca, there is already pressure on the electronics market against the use of Deca. Therefore, given the number of other issues on IPC’s agenda, I don’t expect this to be a priority."

"IPC has not yet discussed the matter with its EHS steering committee," Abrams added, stressing her comments were only "her opinion."

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 January 2010 12:22


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