Canada's federal government will allow the use of decabromodiphenyl ether as a flame retardant in plastics.
Deca is one of about 200 chemicals being examined by federal agencies Environment Canada and Health Canada for toxicity and whether they should be regulated. The ministries announced the deca decision July 11.
Deca is widely used as a flame retardant in plastic housings, wiring and other polymer products where there could be a fire hazard. While allowing deca use, Canada's government said it will seek a voluntary approach to minimize releasing the chemical into the environment from manufacturing. Also, it will study whether there is a need for further controls on the chemical, depending on levels of exposure to Canadians and the environment.
``The decision appears to recognize the value deca brings to the market and that it is widely studied and does not present risks needing further regulation,'' said John Kyte, a Washington-based spokesman for Bromine Science and Environmental Forum, a global industry trade group.
The ministries said production of deca in Canada will be banned, but Kyte said that is a nonissue because there are no plans to make the product in the country.
An environmental group took issue with the announcement.
``We're disappointed [that the ministries] didn't take steps to reduce or eliminate deca,'' said Elaine MacDonald, senior scientist for Ecojustice Canada, formerly Sierra Legal Defense Fund Canada. ``We see concentrations increasing in wildlife and breast milk. There are a lot of reasons to eliminate deca.''
She said her group is apprehensive that deca could be a test case for the 200 chemicals being studied, and its status could sway decisions on other chemicals.