Organophosphate Flame Retardants – Truly the Better Choice?

  • Author: Sarah Maier
  • Published: 01 November 2019
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
  • Source / Publisher: Environmental Science and Technology Letters/ACS Publications
  • Associated Societies: American Chemical Society (ACS), USA
thumbnail image: Organophosphate Flame Retardants – Truly the Better Choice?

Flame retardants are used in various consumer products, such as electronics enclosures, upholstered furniture, and building materials. In the past, polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) were commonly used for this purpose. Due to their persistence and environmental accumulation, combined with various health concerns, PBDEs have been largely phased out. Nowadays, organophosphate ester flame retardants (OPFRs) are commonly used as substitutes.


Marta Venier, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, and colleagues have investigated if replacing PBDEs by OPFRs is a case of "regrettable substitution", where a class of substances known for their hazardous properties is replaced by another one for which sufficient data on health effects and environmental impact are not yet available. To answer this question, the team compared data on the environmental fate, indoor levels, human exposure, and adverse health effects of PBDEs and OPFRs.


The data showed that OPFRs are metabolized much faster than PBDEs within the human body, but are persistent enough to be found in the environment. Indoor exposure is similar or even higher than indoor exposure to PBDEs during the peak of their use, and the toxic effects of the two compound classes are similar. It is not yet clear if OPFRs are toxic at common household exposure levels, but epidemiological evidence suggests a correlation between reduced female fertility, developmental problems in children, and OPFR exposure.


The team concludes that further research into the exposure levels and health effects of OPFRs is needed to determine if they are save for mass application. They advise against the continued use of PPFRs with the current state of evidence and suggest the use of innovative product design and new materials to improve flame resistance instead of adding potentially harmful flame retardants.


 

 

Article Views: 539

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in

Bookmark and Share

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from ChemistryViews.org, please contact us first for permission. more


CONNECT:

ChemistryViews.org on Facebook

ChemistryViews.org on Twitter ChemistryViews.org on YouTube ChemistryViews.org on LinkedIn Sign up for our free newsletter


A product of ChemPubSoc Europe (16 European Chemical Societies)and Wiley-VCH