The European Union has exempted flame retardant deca-BDE from a law that restricts manufacturers from using potentially toxic materials, in effect allowing the chemical to be used in electronics products.
The Oct. 15 decision is the final step in the regulatory process for deca-brominated diphenyl ether, and comes after a Sept. 2 vote by EU member states to allow the chemical. The EU decision noted that no additional restrictions were needed to protect consumer safety.
The decision follows a 10-year risk assessment of the chemical's toxicity which, industry officials said, looked at 588 studies.
``It is reassuring news for electronics manufacturers worldwide who use deca-BDE as their flame retardant of choice,'' said Dieter Drohmann, chairman of the European Brominated Flame Retardant Industry Panel in Brussels. ``They can now comfortably continue to use deca-BDE.''
The law, the Restrictions on Hazardous Substances act, limits other flame retardants like penta-BDE and octa-BDE in electronics products. That's similar to California legislation, which restricted penta and octa but allowed deca.
The European panel said deca plays an important role in fire safety. EU officials also noted that industry had implemented a voluntary program to reduce emissions of deca in Europe. Industry officials said that program is being expanded to North America.