Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts, health tips, promotions to support our work and more from EWG. You can opt-out at any time. [Privacy]


Industry Will Phase Out Toxic Flame Retardant

For Immediate Release: 
Friday, December 18, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC— Late Thursday, three large chemical companies and officials of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a deal to phase out the toxic flame retardant Decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca). Deca is heavily used in consumer electronics, furniture, textiles and plastic shipping pallets.

The voluntary agreement with bromine industry giants Chemtura, Albemarle and ICL Industrial Products would end production, importation and use of Deca in all consumer products by December 2012. A full ban would take effect one year later.

The joint announcement came just two days after legislation to force a phase-out of Deca was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). The Decabromine Elimination and Control Act of 200 (H.R. 4394) would ban Deca in all products, including those designed for children, by the end of 2013. The measure would complement a number of state-imposed restrictions on Deca, including legislation passed by Maine in 2007.

“We applaud the Deca phase-out deal. Deca is a potent neurotoxin and suspected carcinogen that puts children at risk. It needs to be banned,” said Sonya Lunder, senior scientist at Environmental Working Group (EWG). “Until congress takes action to reform the federal toxic chemical law, it will take actions like this against individual chemicals to protect public health.”

Deca persists in the environment and accumulates in food and in people. Children appear to absorb higher levels of the chemical. In 2008, pioneering research by Environmental Working Group produced the first-ever detection of Deca in the blood of American children. The children in the study had higher blood concentrations of Deca than their mothers.

In a statement issued today (Dec. 18), Pingree said, “I am encouraged by this eleventh hour agreement, and if it is followed it will achieve my primary goal with this legislation—getting Deca out of our environment. The chemical industry hasn’t always lived up to voluntary agreements. This bill will make sure they do.”

“This is an important step forward,” Lunder added, “but it is a voluntary agreement, and it does little to ensure that the substitutes for Deca are safe. Rep. Pingree's bill will give this phase-out the force of law and it will ensure that substitutes for Deca are safe."


EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

Key Issues: