[This is Part One of a two-part series. Here is a link to Part Two.]
Last summer, EPA released a Problem Formulation and Data Needs Assessment describing the inadequacy of data available to conduct risk assessments on a group of brominated phthalate flame retardants – two of which are major components in widely used Firemaster products.
This is the first of two blog posts on the comments EDF recently submitted to EPA on this document. In this post, we discuss the growing public health and environmental concerns over use of Firemaster products and the recommendations we made to EPA on steps it needs to promptly take to address these concerns. In our second post, we’ll lay out our serious concerns about the lack of transparency, limited data access, and allowance of unwarranted confidentiality claims that our review of EPA’s document brought to light.
First, a brief history
In the mid-2000s, Great Lakes Chemicals Corporation (now Chemtura) agreed to phase out production of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants due to mounting evidence of their health effects and their persistence and accumulation in people and the environment. Soon after, the use of the company’s replacement Firemaster products skyrocketed.
The two main components of Firemaster products, 2-Ethylhexyl 2,3,4,5- tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) and bis(2-Ethylhexyl) -3,4,5,6- tetrabromophthalate (TBPH), are high production volume (“HPV”) chemicals – each produced at more than one million pounds annually.
Unfortunately, use of these chemicals rose to such levels – replacing PBDEs in consumer products like polyurethane foam-based furniture and electronics – without sufficient data and review to establish their safety. Read More