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Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) Action Plan Summary

What chemicals are addressed in the action plan?

This action plan, released on August 18, 2010, addresses EPA’s review of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), a category of brominated flame retardants.

Why is EPA concerned about these chemicals?

HBCD is used in expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) in the building and construction industry, as well as in consumer products. People may be exposed to HBCD from products and dust in the home and workplace, as well as its presence in the environment.

HBCD is found world-wide in the environment and wildlife. It is also found in human breast milk, adipose tissue, and blood. It bioaccumulates in living organisms and biomagnifies in the food chain. It is persistent in the environment and is transported long distances.

HBCD is highly toxic to aquatic organisms. It also presents human health concerns based on animal test results indicating potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effects.

What action is EPA taking?

EPA intends to initiate the following actions to manage the risk that may be presented by HBCD:

  1. Consider initiating rulemaking under TSCA section 5(b)(4) to add HBCD to the Concern List of chemicals which present or may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.

  2. Initiate rulemaking under TSCA section 5(a)(2) to designate manufacture or processing of HBCD for use as a flame retardant in consumer textiles as a significant new use. This would require manufacturers and processors to notify EPA before manufacturing or processing HBCD for this use. This Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) also would be proposed to apply to imports of consumer textiles articles containing HBCD. EPA has evidence to suggest that the use of HBCD in textiles may be limited to specialty commercial applications, and that general consumer textile use may be so limited it would be appropriate for SNUR regulation. If information shows this assumption to be incorrect, EPA will consider initiating rulemaking under TSCA section 6(a) to address general consumer textile use.
  3. Consider initiating rulemaking under TSCA section 6(a) to regulate HBCD. A section 6(a) action could take the form of a comprehensive ban on the manufacturing, processing, distribution in commerce and use of a chemical substance, or a more targeted regulation to address specific activities. The extent of the rule for HBCD would be determined during the rulemaking process.

  4. Initiate rulemaking to add HBCD to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Listing on TRI will require manufacturers or importers to provide environmental release information.

  5. Conduct a Design for the Environment alternatives assessment of HBCD. The information developed may be used to encourage industry to move away from HBCD instead of, in addition to, or as part of any regulatory action taken under TSCA. The alternatives assessment would build upon existing knowledge and would consider various exposed populations, including sensitive human subpopulations, as well as environmental exposure.

Download the complete Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) Action Plan (PDF), (12 pp., 137KB, About PDF)

Access the public comment docket for the Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) Action Plan (Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2010-0550) on Regulations.gov.

Access information on the Safer Choice Partnership on Flame Retardant Alternatives for Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

Access the public comment docket for the Safer Choice Partnership draft report for alternatives to Hexabromocyclododecane (Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2013-0379) on Regulations.gov.

Access the public comment docket for the Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) (Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2011-0489) on Regulations.gov.

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