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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
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Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
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U.N. Convention Bans Flame Retardant
10 May 2013 5:30 pm
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants has voted for a global ban of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), a common flame retardant in insulation, textiles, and electronics. HBCD now joins two other such compounds on the convention's list of restricted chemicals.
Brominated flame retardants are very good at preventing plastics and textiles from catching fire. They also tend to persist in the environment and accumulate in biological tissue. Out of concern for possible human health effects, the convention in 2009 banned tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether.
According to the convention's description of HBCD, the chemical is made in the United States, Europe, and Asia. In 2001, about half of the 16,500 tons on the market was used in Europe. By 2003, global demand had risen to nearly 22,000 tons.
With HBCD now on the convention's list of pollutants, countries must work to eliminate its use. The European Union's toxics program, called REACH, had already identified HBCD as a "substance of very high concern" and called for its phase-out by 2015. But David Azoulay, managing attorney for the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) in Geneva, Switzerland, says that the global ban is a good step. "The ban prevents other countries from adopting this chemical for existing or developing new uses for it," he told ScienceInsider.
CIEL and other environmental groups were disappointed that the European Union was granted a 5-year exception for using HBCD in expanded and extruded polystyrene insulation in buildings. Companies that make HBCD for this purpose must notify the convention, clearly identify their products, and cannot export them from the European Union.