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Flame Retardant Alternatives for HBCD Partnership - About this Project

About This Project | Milestones | Participants

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Final Report

On June 12, 2014, through its Design for the Environment (DfE) program, EPA released the final assessment for "Flame Retardant Alternatives for Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)" (PDF) (230pp, 1.76MB).

Read the executive summary and assessment’s chapters:

Executive summary (PDF) (6pp, 195K)
Chapter 1: Introduction (PDF) (7pp, 162K)
Chapter 2: HBCD Uses, End-of-Life, and Exposure (PDF) (19pp, 349K)
Chapter 3: Background on Flame Retardants (PDF) (14pp, 240K)
Chapter 4: Hazard Evaluation of HBCD and Alternatives (PDF) (167pp, 1.32MB)
Chapter 5: Summary of Hazard Assessments, Considerations for Selecting Flame Retardants, and an Overview of Alternative Materials (PDF) (18pp, 252K)

Also on this page:

Why DfE conducted this alternatives assessment

Under its Existing Chemical Management Program, EPA issued an action plan for HBCD, calling for DfE to convene a multi-stakeholder alternatives assessment to help decision makers choose safer alternatives to HBCD. Read more about DfE’s Alternatives Assessments.

Participation of all interest groups in the alternatives assessment for HBCD was aimed at ensuring that the full range of views was considered from the start of the project and that they were incorporated appropriately into the project objective and methodology.

HBCD is a brominated flame retardant that has been found to have persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) characteristics. EPA’s Action Plan for HBCD identified the chemical as persistent in the environment, bioaccumulative in living organisms, and highly toxic to aquatic organisms.

Human exposure is evidenced by the presence of HBCD in breast milk, adipose tissue, and blood, and it biomagnifies in the food chain.

HBCD also presents human health concerns based on animal test results indicating potential reproductive, developmental, and neurological effects. People may be exposed to HBCD from products and dust in the home and workplace.

Q. & A. Consumer Fact Sheet on Flame Retardants

Read a Consumer Fact Sheet on Flame Retardant Chemicals.
Download the PDF version of the consumer Flame Retardant fact sheet (PDF) (3pp, 236K).

Scope of the partnership

This partnership addressed viable alternatives to HBCD for use in expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) and extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). Although HBCD is used in a variety of materials, such as textiles and high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) in electronics housings, it is most commonly used as a flame retardant in EPS and XPS, which are used as rigid foam insulation in the building and construction industry.

Read about the scope of the alternative assessment HBCD (PDF) (1pg, 16.6K).

Readers interested in alternatives for HBCD’s secondary uses, such as in textiles and electronics housings, can refer to DfE’s Flame Retardant Alternatives for Decabromodiphenyl Ether (DecaBDE) Partnership, which considers alternative flame retardants for a wider range of polymers and applications.

Development of the assessment

The public comment period on the draft assessment was open from September 24 until November 22, 2013, and was reopened from November 25 to December 6, 2013. Seven sets of formal written public comments were received and can be retrieved in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2013-0379 via www.regulations.gov.

Read EPA’s response to public comments (PDF) (35pp, 277K).

See the milestones of the assessment’s development.

How do I get more information?

Please contact Emma Lavoie (Lavoie.Emma@epa.gov).

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