Policies in Europe
term decaBDE alone refers to only decabromodiphenyl ether,
the single "fully brominated" PBDE. DecaBDE is
a flame retardant. The chemical "is always used in
conjunction with antimony trioxide" in polymers, mainly
in "high impact polystyrene (HIPS) which is used in
the television industry for cabinet backs." DecaBDE
is also used for "polypropylene drapery and upholstery
fabric" by means of backcoating and may also be used
in some synthetic carpets. In the electronics industry some
plastics can contain decaBDE elements.
2003, the European Union passed into law the Restriction
of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, which eliminates
the use of certain toxic chemicals in electronics, including
deca-BDE (bromodiphenyl ether), beginning in July 2006.
Under the RoHS Directive, the European Commission has the
authority to issue an exemption for four years if elimination
is ¡§technically or scientifically impracticable¡¨ or if
the environmental health impacts of alternatives outweigh
the impacts of deca-BDE. Yet the Commission has proven neither
of these facts and this was the basis of legal challenges
by both the European Parliament and Denmark in January 2006.
In fact, research by the Danish and German governments,
the IFP Research group in Sweden, and the University of
Massachusetts Lowell in the U.S., have all shown that alternatives
are widely available to deca-BDE. Many electronics firms
have eliminated or committed to eliminating deca-BDE
in all their products.