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Regulatory Developments & Issues for Flame Retardants Used in Electrical & Electronic Equipment

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

The primary flame retardant resins used in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) housings include HIPS, ABS, PC/ABS blends, and PPO/HIPS blends. Brominated flame retardants are used in HIPS and ABS EEE applications, while phosphorus flame retardants are normally utilized in PC/ABS blends and PPO/HIPS blends. The printed wiring boards in EEE applications contain a polymeric resin that typically has a flame retardant reacted into the polymer backbone. There are other flame retardant plastics contained in EEE, such as connectors and wire & cable insulation that contain a variety of flame retardants, depending on the resin used. Flame retardants, as well as other materials, are coming under scrutiny due to perceived environmental and toxicological issues. A great deal of information is publicly available on the potential health and environmental effects of commonly used flame retardants. Several flame retardants, both brominated and phosphorus are currently undergoing European Union (EU) risk assessments. Europe has a process that has been in place for more than 10 years to assess existing chemicals. This "risk assessment" (RA) process is the most comprehensive assessment of a chemical's environmental and human health impacts. Chemicals are assessed individually, not as a class. In addition to the EU RA process, Europe also has the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) directive. This Directive is separate to the EU RA process. It calls for the phase-out from July 2006 of selected substances (lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and Penta and Octa-PBDE) in EEE. Deca-BDE was exempted from the RoHS directive in October 2005. Another European directive that was put in place to deal with the rising amount of waste EEE is the EU WEEE directive. The directive sets requirements relating to criteria for the collection, treatment, recycling and recovery of WEEE. The main requirements of this directive were scheduled to start on Au- - gust 13, 2005. However, many European member states have encountered major difficulties in meeting the directive's deadline, and have delayed implementation. The new EU chemical legislation "REACH" (registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals) is now on its way towards adoption. The final details have yet to be announced

Published in:

Electronics and the Environment, 2006. Proceedings of the 2006 IEEE International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

8-11 May 2006

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