European Union Reform Ensures Fire safety in Electrical and Electronic Equipment

July 11th, 2011

Innovation continues in the Electrical and Electronic Equipment category by the European Union, who published the revised Directive on the Restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances following agreement between the EU Council and the European Parliament on 8 June 2011.

This revision is to be considered before end-2014 by the Commission, on the basis of a thorough assessment, and periodically thereafter on its own initiative or following a proposal by a Member State.

Click here to read the European Flame Retardant Association factsheet and more in depth detail about the restricted substance list containing: Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBBs) and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) as well as the science based methodology.

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Environmentalists Against Flame Retardant Chemicals Wage Life-Threatening Bans.

May 19th, 2011

Activists believe that flame retardant chemicals can be found in breast milk and blood samples and may eventually cause cancer. This argument has pressured the United States and Europe to ban some of these chemicals but as a result, this contributes to the death toll around the world. Read full article here.

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Fire Safety Heats up in Europe

January 6th, 2011

Study says thousands put at risk from house fires due to low or non-existent EU furniture safety standards.

Will green technologies have a roll in this new finding?

Sofas bought in 25 member states reached life-threatening condition in less than seven minutes while “stringent” UK safety standards delayed fire growth for almost 25 minutes, it says.

The report says that 3,000 people are killed and 30,000 injured every year across Europe in house fires, half of which involve furniture.

The study has revealed “shocking” evidence that the lives of European citizens are being put at risk by very low – or non-existent – fire safety standards for upholstered furniture.

The research, carried out by a specialist testing centre in the Netherlands1, involved setting fire to sofas bought in each of the 27 EU member states.

It found that 25 out of the 27 sofas reached life-threatening heat and smoke density less than seven minutes after ignition – some in as little as two minutes.

By contrast, the sofa manufactured to the stringent UK (and Irish) fire safety standard slowed the development of the fire, which did not turn into a life-threatening blaze until more than 21 minutes had elapsed.

See full story.

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Will 2011 be the Year for Science-Based Solutions?

December 9th, 2010


As innovation continues to drive new and better products for business and society, how will regulation and legislation evolve to keep up with the pace?

The European Parliament’s recent approval of a compromise on the RoHS Directive may be one more positive sign toward science-based processes and progress.  On November 24th, 2010,  the European Parliament overwhelmingly supported a science-based approach to European Union (EU) legislation by adopting the new RoHS Directive  This decision secured the continued use of flame retardants, including brominated flame retardants, in electrical and electronic equipment.

The agreement was negotiated between the European institutions, and is expected to be formally adopted in December.  Following formal adoption, the final Directive will be published in early 2011.

Albemarle applauds this decision as the text of the agreement is a significant improvement compared to the current RoHS Directive. The new Directive moves away from blacklisting of substances to a modernized legislation aligned with the newest evaluation processes such as REACH.  It provides clarity, predictability and legal certainty not only for our industry, but for society as a whole, on the issue of substance restriction.

The new RoHS Directive now includes a defined methodology for future restrictions, which shall be coherent with REACH. The Commission’s proposal not to expand the list of restricted substances has been supported by the other EU institutions. The Parliament and the Member States have also addressed the concerns over potentially discriminatory listing of substances by deleting Annex III.

The scope of the new RoHS Directive has been extended, thereby increasing the number of applications for which substitution needs to be found for those substances already banned, including DecaBDE.

“We believe the current agreement provides clarity, predictability and legal certainty for the industry by recognizing the need for evaluation of substances on a case by case basis rather than blacklisting of whole families of flame retardants” says Brian Carter, Albemarle’s Global Business Director – Brominated Flame Retardants. “We offer different flame retardant solutions to meet the requirements of the electrical and electronic industry, including for those applications that are newly added to the RoHS.”

Albemarle is planning to hold several webinars in the near future to update the market on the changes and new requirements under the RoHS. If you’d like more information contact our European Advocacy Department – eMail:, Tel.: +32-10-48-17-56.

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EPA to Take Action on Chemicals Used in Dyes, Flame Retardants, and Industrial Detergents

August 19th, 2010

EPA to Take Action on Chemicals Used in Dyes, Flame Retardants, and Industrial Detergents Efforts to limit exposure and reduce harm to people

Release date: 08/18/2010

WASHINGTON – As part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s commitment to strengthen and reform chemical management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released action plans today to address the potential health risks of benzidine dyes, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and nonylphenol (NP)/nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). The chemicals are widely used in both consumer and industrial applications, including dyes, flame retardants, and industrial laundry detergents. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Read full release

Our Green Lab blog commends the EPA for their continued efforts to make our planet a safe environment for all living things. These efforts align with the chemical industry’s commitment to sustainability in products and to consumer safety. Today, the chemical industry spends millions of dollars on green chemistry R&D to create and introduce new eco-friendly solutions for many business sectors.

For example, the flame retardants that are critical ingredients in many consumer electronic products, as well as the interiors of automobiles and airplanes, save lives and protect property from fires.  These flame retardants are now available as eco-friendly alternatives to products from the past. Trial testing by industry leader Albemarle and its Earthwise brand are currently underway and many of these new green alternatives will be introduced to the market later this year.

High-efficiency polystyrene insulation is very important to everyone’s efforts to reduce energy consumption and global warming, but this insulation requires highly effective flame retardants to maintain fire safety. The chemical industry has been working to develop a new generation of flame retardants that does not present the same concerns as HBCD. The new products are based on polymers (like a plastic) with larger molecules, which impede their absorption by humans, animals and plants.

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Critical Life Saving Chemical Topic of GPEC 2010albemarle

March 10th, 2010

Green chemistry and eco-friendly news and information from Earthwise- Albemarle’s Earthwise team spoke at the Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC)

Members of Albemarle’s Earthwise team spoke at the Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC) on March 9, 2010. The presentation speakers included Susan Landry, Advisor for Fire Safety & Advocacy, and Ray Dawson, Global Director for Advocacy. In case you weren’t able to attend GPEC 2010, we’ve compiled some highlights from the presentation that focused on “Flame Retardant Regulatory Status and Future Development”.

  • Flame retardants provide a valuable role in our society by preventing ignition, delaying the spread of fires and delaying the time of flashover to enable people time to escape.
  • It is important that flame retardants are safe in use.
  • Regulations are being developed worldwide to provide the platform to achieve this goal with a level of confidence.
  • Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) is a new European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006) and entered into force on June 1, 2007. The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. (For more information on REACH, visit the European Commission for the Environment website.)
  • The Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) 2002/95/EC was adopted in February 2003 by the European Union and took effect on 1 July 2006. This directive restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. (For more information on RoHS, visit the RoHS European Union website.)
  • The three major producers of Deca-BDE have entered into a “partnership” with the EPA to phase out production and importation of the solution.
  • Albemarle sustainability plan includes the implementation of measures throughout the supply chain to minimize emissions of persistent compounds to the environment. They also plan to engage distributors, customers, and competitors in programs like VECAP to eliminate all product emissions from the environment.
  • GreenArmor, an eco-friendly flame retardant, is Albemarle’s first product in the Earthwise family of green solutions.

To view the complete presentation from GPEC 2010, visit Earthwise on Slideshare.

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