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Brominated flame retardants: issues surrounding their use in electrical and electronic equipment

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2 Author(s)
Dawson, R.B. ; Albemarle Corp., Baton Rouge, LA, USA ; Landry, S.D.

Brominated flame retardants have been used for many years in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). They provide an efficient, and in certain cases, the only viable method of achieving required flammability standards with given plastics. It is well documented that the use of flame retardants delays the spread of fires or delays the time of flashover, hence saving lives and property. In the case of televisions, the introduction of higher fire safety standard in the US for television enclosures has led to a 73% decrease in the incidence of fires involving televisions. With the use of brominated flame retardants come questions related to risk in use and end-of-life options for plastics containing these materials. European Risk Assessment for several brominated flame retardants is now in progress. Research has been ongoing to study various end-of-life options, such as recycle, bromine recovery, and waste-to-energy recovery (incineration). This paper addresses issues related to benefits, risk in use, and end-of-life options of plastics containing brominated flame retardants. Results of research aimed at determining the recyclability of plastics containing brominated flame retardants under a variety of conditions (standard recycle, material subjected to extreme temperature and humidity, and mixed recycle streams) is included. Also, current practices for end-of-life options are discussed. The conclusions of these evaluations show the benefits in terms of fire safety and the value of various end-of-life options for EEE containing selected brominated flame retardant resins.

Published in:

Electronics and the Environment, 2003. IEEE International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

19-22 May 2003