Brominated Flame Retardants

Although there is no specific legislation on brominated flame retardants (BFRs), the European Commission continues to monitor their toxicity and prevalence.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published several opinions on BFRs over the last few years. In the case of polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) it found that levels were very low and, in view of the fact that manufacture and use were phased out several decades ago, PBBs are of no further interest.

For polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), in general there were no concerns. However, a possible adverse neurodevelopmental effect in young children was linked to one of the PBDEs, BDE 99. EFSA noted that, although PBDE production and use have been phased out, many products containing PBDEs are still in use. EFSA concluded that there was a need for further data on occurrence as well as toxicology and epidemiology.

Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) is a persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substance, and has been identified as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation (No 1907/2006).

Its use continues, primarily in expanded and extruded polystyrene applied as construction and packing materials, and in textiles. EFSA did not consider exposure levels to this contaminant to be high enough to be a health concern. EFSA recommends that data collection should continue, particularly for levels in food for infants and toddlers.

EFSA has also developed opinions on tetrabromobisphenol (TBBPA) and other brominated phenols. The EFSA opinions can be found on: