13 Jul Canada’s restrictions on DBDPE will only cause more harm
DBDPE is also known as decabromodiphenyl ethane. It is a flame retardant used in many applications of our daily lives such as plastic and rubber materials. It protects even electrical and electronic equipment or lamps. Its role is to inhibit and/or suppress the combustion process by reducing the heat release and slowing the spread of flames.
On the 14th of May, Canada’s federal department for environment, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) introduced the first draft of the Prohibition of Certain Toxic substances Regulations 2022. The draft proposal contains unprecedented restrictions on the manufacture, use, sale and import of both DBDPE and products containing DBDPE.
Consequences for the markets
Removing DBDPE from the Canadian market is unwarranted based on the data from manufacturers and others. Currently, no other suitable flame retardant exists to replace DBDPE. Thus, no substitute would keep our appliances, electronics, wires and cables safe.
NAFRA, The North American Flame Retardants Alliance, insisted that “Canada’s regulatory proposal for DBDPE is not supported by the state of the science, does not align with global regulations, and has the potential to create inconsistencies and disruptions for the North American supply chain. Fire safety is a critical public health issue, and flame retardants such as DBDPE are an important tool to help protect the public from the dangers posed by fire.”
These proposed restrictions are not supported by the best available science as new data reinforces the view that DBDPE remains safe in its various applications. New information has also been shared with ECCC refuting assumptions that have been made regarding the degradation of DBDPE in the environment. These latest findings demonstrate that the latest science and information do not support the regulatory actions proposed by ECCC.
These restrictions on DBDPE also do not align with the overall global regulations and will create discrepancies and disturbances in the supply chain. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is not currently conducting a risk evaluation for DBDPE and is not contemplating risk management measures.
“The proposed regulation is an outlier globally and would be the first to place such broad restrictions on the use of DBDPE,” says NAFRA. “It is also inconsistent with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which requires a risk-based approach to chemical regulations. Limiting the use of a fire safety tool that is not restricted in other jurisdictions has the potential to cause unnecessary supply chain disruptions that could affect businesses and consumers.”
Flame retardants are essential in product design as they can prevent fires, and small ignitions from becoming larger fires. Based on the data available, DBDPE meets performance and safety standards for our everyday appliances and is at the moment unreplaceable for fire protection.
BSEF encourages product manufacturers, suppliers, and designers to submit their objection to the ECCC regarding the proposed restrictions on the use of DBDPE, which is critical to meet safety standards as part of an overall effort to protect consumers. Until 28th July, there is a public consultation on the proposed regulations (Canada Gazette, Part I, May 14, 2022) for which we urge interested parties to flag their concerns with this worrying development.
For more information please contact Patrick Fox, Head of Public Affairs and Advocacy, BSEF, at firstname.lastname@example.org.