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1 The Flame Retardants Controversy: Fire Safety and Environmental Protection Adrian Beard, EFA roundtable, 2008-01-31.

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Presentation on theme: "1 The Flame Retardants Controversy: Fire Safety and Environmental Protection Adrian Beard, EFA roundtable, 2008-01-31."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 The Flame Retardants Controversy: Fire Safety and Environmental Protection Adrian Beard, EFA roundtable,

2 2 Outline Accidental fires cause human casualties, economic damage and environmental pollution The risks that flame retardant chemicals pose are small and manageable Flame retardants are an important element of fire protection and they can be safely used The manufacturers try to develop new and better flame retardants

3 3 Fire Casualties and Damage (Europe 25) about 15 casualties in Europe per day ~ 75 % of victims in private homes intoxication by smoke is main cause of death costs of 30 billion € per year ~ 0.3 % of gross domestic product

4 4 Effects of Combustion Products and Smoke heat dense smoke can make orientation impossible acutely toxic: narcotic: CO, HCN - deadly within minutes; CO 2, O 2 -deficiency irritants for eyes and breathing: HCl, SO 2, NOx, aldehydes compounds with long term effects: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) halogenated dioxins + furans (PCDD/F) mostly adsorbed to soot

5 5 Different FR systems Load needed Inhibition of flame (gas phase) most effective: halogens (Br >> Cl) often combined with synergists complex radical reactions with Oxygen Inhibition of surface burning (charring) eg. P-Containing Systems Mineral FR Systems Release of water Temperature reduction Effectiveness

6 6 The Variety of Flame Retardants diversity in terms of physical / chemical properties, environmental fate, toxicology, and regulatory status 35 Cl 31 P 80 Br 14 N 27 Al 24 Mg Al(OH) 3 11 B

7 7 Halogen Containing Flame Retardants Product examples Decabromodiphenylether (Deca) Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) Tetrabromophthalic acid anhydride Dodecachloropentacyclooctadecadiene (Dechlorane) Chlorinated paraffinsTetrabromobisphenol A (TBBA)

8 8 Phosphorus Containing Flame retardants Examples Triaryl phosphatesResorcinol bis(diphenylphosphate) (RDP) Tris(chlorpropy)lphosphate (TCPP) Phosphinic acid derivativesAmmonium polyphosphate (APP) Red phosphorus

9 9 Variety of Flame Retardants usage of Flame Retardants, Europe, % of total tonnage (total 408,000 tons/year) source SRI Consulting

10 10 When are Flame Retardants used? Laws and regulations define the necessary minimum levels of fire safety Technical standards for products define which fire test has to be applied and what the criteria are Fire test standards define the method of testing for reaction to fire and the measured parameters (e.g. time to ignition, heat release,...) Flame retardants can be added so some materials in order to achieve the necessary safety level, i.e. pass the relevant fire test

11 11 Television sets flame retardednot flame retarded 8 min after ignition with a small flame:

12 12 Concerns: dioxins Q: Can halogenated flame retardants form dioxins and furans during their production, use, in case of fire, when disposed of or when recycled? A: Only very few out of the 75 brominated FRs are precursors for dioxins and furans Studies show that even after several recycling loops, plastics containing brominated FRs can still pass the German dioxin ordinance Modern incinerators effectively remove dioxins and furans from the flue gas Decabromodiphenylether (Deca) chlorinated dibenzodioxin chlorinated dibenzofuran

13 13 Concerns: bio-accumulation Q: Do halogenated products accumulate in organisms and are they found in increasing amounts in human milk? A: Only very few halogenated FRs have the potential to bio- accumulate (pentaBDE, PBBs). Only pentaBDE is found in breast milk and latest publications show that the level is falling again since PentaBDE is banned in Europe since July PBBs have been voluntarily phased out by the industry in 2000.

14 14 Concerns: toxicity Q: Are flame retardants potentially toxic chemicals which are generally objectionable in consumer products? Can they be taken up by humans and be harmful to their health? A: FRs are as safe as other common chemicals. The amounts of FRs released from products are usually minimal and pose no significant risk; reactive FRs do not migrate at all. No report exists of humans or organisms having had adverse effects or having died from exposure to FRs. Most FRs are not classified as dangerous (toxic) substances according to EU legislation. Several FRs are used as reactive substances and hence do not exist as such anymore in the consumer product.

15 15 EU Risk Assessments

16 16 Evaluation of Flame Retardants Following the current risk assessments, only 2 FRs have been banned whereas for the others, either no risk has been identified, or risks have been found manageable for those where the risk assessment is finalised. A large number of FRs have not been associated with any environmental or health risks, some even received approval from environmental authorities. For some FRs, the European risk assessments have found no risks, but still they remain in the political discussion.

17 17 The Perception of Risk Hazard = harmful property of a chemical Risk = the chance the harm will occur Risk = Probability x Hazard Probability is linked to Exposure Media, green and consumer groups often confuse hazard with risk Translated into the everyday world: Alcohol is a deadly poison Sacharin is a known carcinogen

18 18 REACH and Flame Retardants The new European chemicals legislation REACH requires that all chemicals – old and new – have to be registered and a basic set of health and environmental data must be submitted (dependent on production volume). => all chemicals will be assessed on an equal basis The FR industry is well prepared for REACH, because of long experience with EU Risk Assessments. Industry and consumers hope that in exchange for the high cost of REACH, we can build trust in the chemicals we use.

19 19 Demands on flame retardants flame retardant compatibility with the target polymer and the production process flame retardant effect toxicology, ecology cost Often, combinations of FRs are used No single, “best” flame retardant

20 20 Upholstered Furniture LCA Project Life Cycle Analysis different flame retardants: P and Br based in comparison with non flame retardant components combined with fire statistics The project was contracted by EFRA to SP & IVL (Swedish Environmental Research Institute)

21 21 Upholstered Furniture LCA - Results flame retarded sofas produced chlorinated / brominated dioxins and furans non-flame retarded sofas produce markedly higher emissions of HCN and PAHs due to much higher number of fires therefore, non-flame redarded sofas have a more negative impact on the environment

22 22 Summary and Conclusion Accidental fires cause human casualties, economic damage and environmental pollution The risks that flame retardant chemicals pose are small and manageable Flame retardants are an important element of fire protection and they can be safely used The manufacturers try to develop new and better flame retardants

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24 24 Thank you for your attention


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