U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
12/30/2009
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
Action Plan
I.	Overview
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been widely used as flame retardants in a
number of applications. Three commercial PBDE mixtures have been produced and used in the
United States and elsewhere: commercial pentabromodiphenyl ether (c-pentaBDE), commercial
octabromodiphenyl ether (c-octaBDE), and commercial decabromodiphenyl ether (c-decaBDE).
Although manufacture and import of c-pentaBDE and c-octaBDE were phased out in 2004,
PBDE congeners associated with those mixtures continue to be found in humans and the
environment. Some reports indicate that levels are continuing to increase. Imported articles
treated with c-pentaBDE and c-octaBDE could be a source of human and environmental
exposure to these PBDE congeners. c-DecaBDE is still manufactured and used in the United
States. Data suggest that debromination, physical or metabolic removal of bromine atoms, may
convert decaBDE to more toxic PBDE congeners, contributing further to the potential risk from
exposure to these congeners.
EPA is concerned that some of the component congeners are persistent, bioaccumulative and
toxic and intends to initiate a number of actions to limit the exposure and release of PBDE
congeners and/or articles to which they have been added. These actions are to: (1) Initiate
rulemaking to propose a TSCA significant new use rule (SNUR) for the manufacture or import
of articles to which c-pentaBDE or c-octaBDE has been added (a notice of proposed rulemaking
is intended to publish in late 2010); (2) support and encourage the voluntary phase-out of the
manufacture and import of c-decaBDE; (3) initiate rulemaking to simultaneously propose a
SNUR and a test rule for c-decaBDE in late 2010 (the SNUR would designate manufacture
(including import) of c-decaBDE or articles to which c-decaBDE has been added as a significant
new use and the test rule under section 4 of TSCA would require development of information
necessary to determine the effects that manufacturing, use or other activities involving c-
decaBDE have on human health or the environment); (4) initiate rulemaking under Section
5(b)(4) of TSCA to add the commercial PBDE mixtures and/or the congeners they contain to the
list of chemicals which present or may present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment
(a notice of proposed rulemaking is intended to publish in autumn, 2010);and (5) develop an
alternatives analysis for c-decaBDE (intended to begin in spring 2010).
As part of its efforts to address PBDEs, EPA intends to evaluate the potential for
disproportionate impact on children and other vulnerable populations.
II.	Introduction
As part of EPA's efforts to enhance the existing chemicals program under the Toxic
Substances Control Act (TSCA)1, the Agency identified an initial list of widely recognized
chemicals, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), for action plan development
based on their presence in humans and the environment; their persistence, and toxicity; their use
1 15 U.S.C. 2601 etseq.

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in consumer products; their production volume; or other similar factors. This Action Plan is
based on EPA's initial review of readily available use, exposure, and hazard information on
PBDEs. EPA considered which of the various authorities provided under TSCA and other
statutes might be appropriate to address potential concerns with PBDEs in developing the Action
Plan. The Action Plan is intended to describe the courses of action the Agency plans to pursue in
the near term to address its concerns. The Action Plan does not constitute a final Agency
determination or other final Agency action. Regulatory proceedings indicated by the Action Plan
will include appropriate opportunities for public and stakeholder input, including through notice
and comment rulemaking processes.
III. Scope of Review
This action plan addresses uses of the three commercial PBDE mixtures as flame
retardants and concerns for human and environmental exposure resulting from their use.
The PBDEs are a family of chemicals with a common structure of a brominated diphenyl
ether molecule which may have anywhere from one to ten bromine atoms attached. (Figure 1).
Each individual PBDE variant, distinguished from others by both the number of bromine
atoms and the placement of those atoms, is referred to as a congener. For example, there are 42
tetrabromodiphenyl ether congeners, each with four bromine atoms in different configurations.
Specific congeners, also known as isomers, in which both the number and location of bromine
atoms is specified are given numbers, e.g., BDE-47. In theory, there could be as many as 209
PBDE congeners, but a much smaller number of congeners are commonly found in the
commercial PBDE products and in measurements of PBDEs in humans and the environment
(Table 1). Scientific studies, particularly those measuring presence of PBDEs in tissues and the
environment, often repot their findings by BDE number.
PBDE congeners can be grouped according to the number of bromine atoms present in
the molecule. TSCA inventory listings and regulations for PBDEs are based on these groups.
(Table 2). The congeners used in flame retardants have between four and ten bromine atoms.
EPA regulations of PBDEs generally apply to congeners grouped according to number of
bromine atoms rather than specific congener/isomers designated by BDE number.
There are three types of commercial PBDE products, c-pentaBDE, c-octaBDE, and c-
decaBDE, each contains a mixture of PBDE congeners (see Table 3).
Figure 1. Brominated diphenyl molecule
x + y = 4 -10
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Table 1.
Selected PBDE Congeners
Congener
Number of
Chemical Name

Bromine Atoms

BDE-28
3
2,4,4'-tribromodiphenyl ether
BDE-47
4
2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether
BDE-85
5
2,2' ,3,4,4'-pentabromodiphenyl ether
BDE-99
5
2,2' ,4,4',5-pentabromodiphenyl ether
BDE-100
5
2,2',4,4',6-pentabromodiphenyl ether
BDE-153
6
2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexabromodiphenyl ether
BDE-154
6
2,2',4,4',5,6'-hexabromodiphenyl ether
BDE-183
7
2,2',3,4,4',5',6-heptabromodiphenyl ether
BDE-197
8
2,2',3,3',4,4',6,6'-octabromodiphenyl ether
BDE-206
9
2,2',3,3',4,4',5,5',6-nonabromodiphenyl ether
BDE-209
10
2,2',3,3',4,4',5,5',6,6'-decabromodiphenyl ether
Table 2. PBDE Congener Groups
Common Name
CAS Index Name
CASRN
Number
Br atoms
TetraBDE
Benzene, l,l'-oxybis-, tetrabromo derivative
40088-47-9
4
PentaBDE
Benzene, l,l'-oxybis-, pentabromo derivative
32534-81-9
5
HexaBDE
Benzene, l,l'-oxybis-, hexabromo derivative
36483-60-0
6
HeptaBDE
Benzene, l,l'-oxybis-, heptabromo derivative
68928-80-3
7
OctaBDE
Benzene, l,l'-oxybis-, octabromo derivative
32536-52-0
8
NonaBDE
Benzene, l,l'-oxybis-, nonabromo derivative
63936-56-1
9
DecaBDE.
Benzene, l,l'-oxybis-, 2,3,4,5,6-pentabromo-
1163-19-5
10
Table 3. Congeners In Commercial PBDE
Mixtures
Commercial Mixture
Major components
Minor components
c-pentaBDE
tetraBDE
hexaBDE

pentaBDE

c-octaBDE
heptaBDE
hexaBDE

octaBDE
nonaBDE


decaBDE
c-decaBDE
decaBDE
nonaBDE
A small number of the PBDE congeners are found most frequently, and in the greatest
concentrations, in human and environmental samples. BDE-47 tends to be found more
frequently than other congeners in measurements from humans, fish and other biota, followed by
BDEs 99, 100, 153 and 154. In measurements of environmental media, like some samples of
house dust, sediments, and indoor air, BDE-209 (decaBDE) seems to be dominant.
IV. Uses and Substitutes Summary
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PBDEs are added to materials to reduce the risk of fires and to increase escape time when
a fire occurs. They were widely used in textiles, plastics and polyurethane foam. PBDE treated
articles were used in the home, in business settings, and in the transportation sector. Articles
which were often treated with PBDEs include carpets, upholstery fabric, cushions, and plastics
used as components in electrical appliances and equipment.
Domestic manufacture of c-pentaBDE and c-octaBDE stopped in 2004 when the Great
Lakes Chemical Corporation (now Chemtura Corporation) voluntary phased out their
production. The EPA subsequently promulgated a SNUR (74 FR 34015, June 13, 2006) which
requires that anyone who intends to manufacture or import a chemical substance or mixture
containing any of the congeners present in c-pentaBDE or c-octaBDE notify EPA at least 90
days in advance. The notice provides EPA with an opportunity to evaluate the intended new use
and, if necessary, take action to limit or prohibit it. The SNUR did not address importation of
articles to which c-pentaBDE or c-octaBDE has been added.
Most of c-pentaBDE's consumption took place in the United States. It was used primarily
as an additive flame retardant in flexible polyurethane foams. A 2002 study estimated that 80
percent of c-pentaBDE was used in foam for furniture and mattresses, while the remaining
amount was used in automotive applications (Hale et al., 2003). In 2005, EPA's Design for the
Environment (DfE) program completed an alternatives analysis for pentaBDE in furniture foam
which provided data to inform substitution to safer alternatives
(http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/proiects/flameret/index.htm). This work complemented the
voluntary phase-out and the SNUR.
c-OctaBDE was used in acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) plastic which was used as
casing for certain electric and electronic devices used in both offices and homes. c-OctaBDE had
a smaller market than c-pentaBDE and was more easily replaced.
c-DecaBDE, on the other hand, is still manufactured and widely used in the United States
and abroad, although legislative action to restrict its use has been undertaken by some US states.
Based on IUR data2 between 50- 100 million pounds were manufactured or imported in the
United States in 2005. That is of the same order of magnitude as the amount reported in 2002.
c-DecaBDE is an economical flame retardant because relatively small quantities are
necessary to achieve a flame retardant effect. The three major product categories in which
decaBDE are used as an additive flame retardant are: textiles, electronic equipment, and building
and construction materials. Its primary use is in high impact polystyrene (HIPS) based products.
Several potential substitutes exist for each major use of decaBDE. EPA has not evaluated the
potential human health or environmental effects of all potential c-decaBDE substitutes.
2 Information on Invertory update data is available at http://www.epa. gov/oppt/iur
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V. Hazard Identification Summary
Human Health Effects
In its 2006 PBDE Project Plan, EPA summarized animal studies of various commercial
mixtures and individual congeners which suggested potential concerns about liver toxicity,
thyroid toxicity, developmental toxicity, and developmental neurotoxicity (EPA, 2006b). These
findings and the presence of PBDEs in house dust and breast milk raise particular concerns about
potential risks to children.
In 2008, EPA published peer reviewed Toxicological Reviews of four PBDE congeners:
tetraBDE (BDE-47), pentaBDE (BDE-99), hexaBDE (BDE-153), and decaBDE (BDE-209), to
support summary information on EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)3 database
(www.epa.gov/iris/).
Neurobehavioral effects was identified as the critical endpoint of concern for each of the
four congeners (EPA, 2008a-d). The protocols for the studies were unique and did not conform
to health effects test guidelines for neurotoxicity. For decaBDE, EPA also proposed that the data
support a finding of "suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential" (EPA, 2008d).
Through EPA's Voluntary Children's Chemical Evaluation Program (VCCEP)4,
industry-sponsored screening level risk assessments for pentaBDE, octaBDE and decaBDE were
developed to evaluate the potential risks to children and prospective parents from potential
PBDE exposures. In August, 2005, EPA released its Data Needs Decision documents on PBDEs.
Noting the evidence suggesting developmental and reproductive effects, EPA requested that the
sponsors provide 2-generation reproductive toxicity studies for both pentaBDE and octaBDE, to
characterize risks to children (EPA, 2005a-b). These data were not made available through
VCCEP, as the companies ceased their sponsorship of pentaBDE and octaBDE under VCCEP.
For decaBDE, EPA indicated a need to further understand fate and transport of decaBDE in the
environment, particularly with respect to the significance of its lower BDE breakdown products,
as this could relate to its risk characterization (EPA, 2005c). The decaBDE data needs were not
met by the VCCEP sponsors and decaBDE was subsequently terminated from the VCCEP
program. EPA then announced its intention to proceed with a test rule under TSCA section 4.
Before a test rule could be proposed, however, the main manufacturers or importers, Albemarle
Corporation, Chemtura Corporation and ICL Industrial Products volunteered to phase out
manufacture, import and sales of decaBDE. However, some relatively minor importation may be
taking place with other companies.
Environmental Effects
At the time the EPA Project Plan was published in 2006, information on environmental
effects of PBDEs was limited, with the most detailed reviews found in European Union risk
3	Information on IRIS is available at http://www.epa.gov/iris/
4	Information on VCCEP is available at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/vccep.
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assessments of certain congeners. Since then, Environment Canada concluded that the greatest
potential risks from PBDEs in the Canadian environment are the secondary poisoning of wildlife
from the consumption of prey containing elevated concentrations of PBDEs and effects on
benthic organisms that may result from elevated concentrations of certain PBDEs in sediments
(Environment Canada, 2006). In a more recent report, Environment Canada has also concluded
that decaBDE specifically is available for uptake in organisms and may accumulate to high and
potentially problematic levels in certain species such as birds of prey or mammalian predators
(Environment Canada, 2009a).
Laboratory studies have shown that congeners associated with c-pentaBDE and c-
octaBDE are capable of producing adverse effects in a variety of organisms including birds,
mammals, and fish. In some cases these effects were observed at exposures levels similar to
levels found in the environment. American kestrels and chickens exhibited adverse effects in
laboratory studies when exposed to levels of c-pentaBDE and c-octaBDE similar to those which
have been observed in monitoring studies conducted in San Francisco Bay and the Great Lakes
(McKernan et al., 2009). Adverse effects included histopathological changes in immune organs,
altered reproductive behavior and decreased embryo survival and decreased hatching rates.
Zhang et al. (2009) reported that c-pentaBDE produced adverse reproductive and developmental
effects in ranch mink. Zhang et al. (2009) also conducted biomonitoring of wild mink from the
Great Lakes region and concluded that margins of safety for mink are small and that mink from
the Hamilton Harbor exceeded the no observed effect concentrations. Timme-Laragy et al.
(2006) reported that c-pentaBDE produced developmental and behavioral effects of fish embryos
including spine curvature and hatching delay.
Breakdown of PBDEs involves debromination, where highly brominated PBDEs can
breakdown to form lesser brominated PBDEs. Although its overall significance is unclear,
metabolic debromination of decaBDE to a variety of PBDE breakdown products has been
observed in fish (carp, fathead minnows, rainbow trout; Kierkegaard et al., 1999; Stapleton et al.,
2004; Stapleton et al., 2006); birds (Van den Steen et al., 2007), cows (Kierkegaard et al., 2006)
and rats (Huwe and Smith, 2007). There is increasing concern that this process can be a
significant source of exposure to lower brominated congeners.
VI. Physical-Chemical Properties and Fate Characterization Summary
PBDEs are expected to be minimally mobile in moving from soil to air or water, except
as borne on particulate matter. Volatilization from moist soil surfaces is expected to be low to
moderate depending on the number of bromine atoms. If PBDEs are released to water, the
individual constituents of these complex mixtures would be expected to adsorb to sediment and
suspended particulate matter, and it is thought that a substantial proportion is likely to be bound
to particles in water. PBDEs are expected to exist in both the vapor and particulate phases in the
ambient atmosphere based upon measured and estimated vapor pressures. The tetraBDE and
pentaBDE congeners are distributed between vapor and particle phases but predominantly in the
vapor phase; the hexa- and octaBDEs are mostly attached to atmospheric particles; and decaBDE
is exclusively adsorbed to particles. Particulate phase compounds are removed from the
atmosphere by wet and dry deposition (HSDB, 2009).
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Based on available evidence, PBDEs can be debrominated under environmental
conditions; however, the overall significance of this process is uncertain. DecaBDE undergoes
photolytic and possibly microbial debromination under certain conditions (Environment Canada,
2009a; Stapleton, 2006). Photolysis is expected to be the dominant transformation process for
decaBDE where the substance is significantly exposed to light. For example, it has been found
that decaBDE undergoes photolytic debromination in house dust (Stapleton and Dodder, 2008).
DecaBDE would also be exposed to light when waste sludge containing PBDEs is used as a soil
amendment (Hale et al., 2001). However, the hydrophobicity of PBDEs implies that in the
aquatic environment they will tend to partition to benthic sediments, where light exposure is
insignificant.
That PBDE congeners with four to ten bromine atoms are highly persistent based on
several lines of evidence, but especially by a large body of environmental monitoring data in
both the United States and abroad (Environment Canada, 2009a; Shaw and Kannan, 2009;
Vonderheide et al., 2008). Available data also indicate that tetra-, penta-, and hexa-BDE are
highly bioaccumulative (Environment Canada, 2006). After reviewing the available information,
EPA has concluded that decaBDE likely contributes to the formation of bioaccumulative and/or
potentially bioaccumulative transformation products such as lower brominated PBDEs in
organisms and in the environment. Studies have shown that that photodegradation of decaBDE
may result in PBDEs from tri- to nona- and biodegradation of decaBDE may result in nona-,
octa- and heptaBDEs (as reviewed in Environment Canada 2009 a).
The atmosphere and marine currents can transport PBDEs over relatively long distances
(> 1,000 km). Evidence for this comes from the presence of PBDEs in the tissues of deep ocean-
dwelling whales and other marine mammals far from anthropogenic sources (Shaw and Kannan,
2009), as well as from modeling (Wania and Dugani, 2003). The body burdens of PBDE
congeners in a wide variety of biota indigenous to geographical areas ranging from the equator to
the poles also substantiate their propensity for long-range transport (LRT), and constitute
evidence of environmental persistence (Environment Canada, 2006).
VII. Exposure Characterization Summary
In recent years, scientists have measured PBDEs in human adipose tissue, serum and
breast milk, fish, birds, marine mammals, sediments, sludge, house dust, indoor and outdoor air,
and supermarket foods. The mechanisms or pathways by which the PBDEs move into and
through the environment and humans are not known, but are likely to include releases from
manufacturing of the chemicals, manufacturing of products like plastics or textiles, aging and
wear of products like sofas and electronics, and releases at the end of product life (disposal,
recycling). In general, levels of PBDEs in humans and the environment are higher in North
America than in other regions of the world, a finding that is often attributed to the greater use of
pentaBDE in North America (EPAb, 2006).
Environmental Exposure
The food chain is likely the largest contributor to environmental exposures with PBDE
depositing in soil and water where fish and benthic organisms are initially exposed.
Biomagnification occurs as predators up the food chain ingest the accumulated concentrations of
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PBDEs from their prey (Chen et al., 2007; Voorspoels et al., 2007; Shaw and Kannan, 2009;
Stapleton and Baker, 2003). In some studies evidence has been provided that the concentrations
of PBDE in biota have doubled every 3 to 6 years, the doubling time depending on species, life
stage, and location. PBDE concentrations in marine biota in North America are the highest in the
world and are increasing (Shaw and Kannan, 2009). After reviewing the available information,
EPA has concluded that the extent of accumulation of congeners is directly related to PBDE
levels in diet. Observed differences in PBDE congener profiles in marine mammals from
California, Alaska, and the Gulf of Mexico indicate that diet is a significant source of PBDE
exposure in marine wildlife (Shaw and Kannan, 2009).
The concentration and distribution of congeners detected in the environment appears to
depend on the proximity to a source of the congener in question and the media tested. Studies
have been performed measuring waterways, sediments, and biota for PBDE concentrations in
various known hot spots, such as the Great Lakes, the San Francisco Bay, and near a
polyurethane foam manufacturing facility (AT SDR, 2004).
Human Exposure
The general population is exposed to PBDEs through the use of consumer products.
Body burden data indicate that the general population appears to be exposed to primarily lower
brominated BDEs (e.g., tetra and penta). PBDEs have been detected in human tissue, blood
(usually serum), and milk. The primary source of human exposure to PBDEs, especially the
lower brominated congeners, may be from dietary intake, particularly high fat content foods
(ATSDR, 2004). The lower brominated tetra- and penta- congeners have also been detected in air
samples and indicate that inhalation may also be a potential route of exposure for the general
population (ATSDR, 2004). Inhalation exposures could also occur from off gassing of PBDEs
from furniture and electrical appliances into indoor air, but little information is known about the
potential exposure through this route (ATSDR, 2004). Dermal exposure may occur through
contact with PBDE-containing products such as polymers and textiles. A large number of human
samples have been analyzed, and the PBDE concentrations have increased by a factor of-100
during the last 30 years (Hites as cited in 2007 BFR Conference abstracts). Exposures to PBDEs
in some occupational settings, such as in computer recycling, can be higher than those of the
general population (Cal/EPA PBDE Workgroup, 2008).
Recent human biomonitoring data are currently available from the Centers for Disease
Control (CDS) Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemical
(http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/). This report was released on December 10, 2009, but the
PBDE data have been published in the peer-reviewed literature (Sjodin et al., 2008). Although
this is the fourth report from this federal agency, it is the first time that PBDEs were included as
analytes. The data were obtained from samples from participants in the 2003-2004 National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Ten different PBDE congeners were
analyzed for (containing from three to seven bromines), including BDE-47, BDE-85, BDE-99,
BDE-100, BDE-153, BDE-154 and BDE-183. Participants were aged 12 years and older and
decaBDE was not included. BDE-47 was detected in serum from almost all of the participants
and at the highest concentrations and it was highest in 12-19 year olds and those 60 years old and
above. Furthermore, serum levels were highest in 12-19 year olds for other lower brominated
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congeners. In addition, these congeners were significantly correlated with each other, suggesting
a similar pathway of exposure (Sjodin et al., 2008).
Lorber (2008), reviewed and synthesized the available information on exposure pathways
for PBDEs, including the relative importance of different exposure pathways and how PBDEs
get into various exposure media. The report explained the process used to gather exposure
information, model body burden, and compare it to representative PBDE profiles in blood and
milk. The analysis focused on indoor measurements of dust/soil and air, suggesting that the
primary source for human exposures to PBDEs appears to be their use in commercial products
that are part of the indoor environment (computer circuitry, foam cushions, fabrics in curtains,
etc). Although the article recommended more research to verify the findings and better quantify
identified uncertainties, it concluded that exposures to PBDEs through food and water ingestion
and inhalation explained less than 20% of the human body burden, while 80 to 90% of total
exposures in the indoor environment were through contact with house dust (Lorber, 2008).
To further examine exposure pathway issues, EPA and the USDA have collaborated on a
study which examined the tissue distribution of PBDE congeners in male rats dosed to mimic
PBDE exposure from food or household dust. This study found differences in PBDE congener
distribution in the body. While the lower brominated congeners tended to distribute equally into
lipids, plasma was the best matrix for detection of the higher brominated congeners (especially
BDE-209), indicating that blood may be the most reliable matrix for overall PBDE
biomonitoring (Huwe et al., 2008).
ATSDR (2004) states that a child's exposure may differ from that of adults because
children drink more fluids, eat more food, breathe more air per kilogram of body weight and
have a larger skin surface area in proportion to body volume. Their diets and behavior patterns
are also different. Infants who consume breast milk may have higher exposure to lower
brominated BDEs than children who drink formula (ATSDR, 2004). PBDEs have been found in
breast milk in the U.S. and in Europe. The median concentration of total PBDEs was found to be
34.0 ng/g lipid, with the BDE 47 being the predominant congener present. Other populations
identified with potentially high exposures are subsistence fishermen who consume PBDE-
contaminated fish and Native Americans who reside in Arctic regions and consume whale and
seal blubber (ATSDR, 2004). These populations are potentially exposed to lower brominated
PBDEs (ATSDR, 2004).
VIII. Risk Management Considerations
U.S. EPA and State/Local Regulatory Reviews and Actions
PentaBDE and OctaBDE
c-PentaBDE and c-octaBDE are no longer produced or imported in the United States. The
sole domestic producer, Great Lakes Chemical (now Chemtura), voluntarily terminated their
production in 2004. In 2006, EPA issued a SNUR (74 FR 34015, June 13, 2006) that requires
anyone who intends to manufacture or import any of the PBDE congeners found in c-pentaBDE
and c-octaBDE to notify the Agency at least 90 days in advance. The required notification would
provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, to prohibit or
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limit the activity before it occurs. However, the SNUR did not address the import of articles
containing penta- or octa-BDEs.
Several states including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan,
Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon and Washington have banned c-pentaBDE and c-
octaBDE.
DecaBDE
In the United States, decaBDE remains available for all uses and no federal action has
been taken to restrict its use. DecaBDE was included in OPPT's Voluntary Children's Chemical
Evaluation program (VCCEP) which identified a number of environmental fate testing needs.
The c-decaBDE manufacturers did not adequately address these testing needs within VCCEP.
Consequently, EPA announced its intention to proceed with a test rule under TSCA section 4.
The principal manufacturers and importer of c-decaBDE have committed to phase out
the manufacture, import and sales of c-decaBDE starting in 2010. Ordinary production, import
and sales of c-decaBDE would cease no later than December 31, 2012. Certain uses such as
transportation uses or military applications may require an additional year to phase out. In any
case the companies would cease sales for these uses no later than December 31, 2013. EPA
intends to encourage other importers of c-decaBDE to join this effort. The commitment under
discussion would not affect articles made with decaBDE. Recycling of materials containing
decaBDE would also not be affected by the commitment.
Washington State banned the use of decaBDE in mattresses as of January 2008, and
starting in January 2011, decaBDE will be prohibited from use in televisions, computers and
upholstered furniture. Maine also banned decaBDE in mattresses and upholstered furniture as of
January 2008 and will extend that ban to televisions and other plastic encased electronics by
January 2010. Washington State and Maine conducted studies which concluded that adequate
substitutes for decaBDE exist. Other states, such as Maryland and Oregon, have introduced
similar legislation to ban the sale of products containing this flame retardant (Buckley, 2009).
International Regulatory Reviews and Actions
PentaBDE and OctaBDE
The European Union has banned both c-pentaBDE and c-octaBDE. The ban prohibits
goods containing octaBDE and pentaBDE from being placed on the market in the EU.
TetraBDE, pentaBDE, hexaBDE, and heptaBDE have been listed in Annex A of the Stockholm
Convention (SC). Parties to the SC are required to prohibit or take measures to eliminate
production and use of chemicals listed in Annex A. The listing for these PBDEs includes a
specific exemption for articles containing these substances, and also permits recycling of such
articles. TetraBDE, pentaBDE and hexaBDE are components of c-pentaBDE; hexaBDE and
heptaBDE are components of c-octaBDE. Thus c-pentaBDE and c-octaBDE are effectively
designated for elimination under the SC.
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Canada's regulations effective in June 2008 prohibit manufacture of the tetra- through
decaBDEs which resulted in prohibiting manufacture of the three commercial mixtures also.
Canada is also working on regulatory controls to restrict PBDEs in manufactured and imported
products (Environment Canada, 2009b).
Summaries of country actions to ban or severely restrict PBDEs can be found in the
respective Risk Management Evaluations for each located on the Stockholm Convention website
at http://chm.pops.int.
DecaBDE
As of July 1, 2008, the European Union banned decaBDE from use in electronics and
electrical applications (Joined Cases C-14/06 and C-295/06). The ban applies to manufactured
and imported electronics and electrical components in items placed on the market under its
Restriction on Hazardous Substances Directive. However, decaBDE is allowed for use in other
applications.
In addition to the regulations cited above, Environment Canada in March 2009 published
for public comment a draft Performance Agreement for DecaBDE used at Canadian
manufacturing facilities aimed at monitoring and minimizing release of c-decaBDE
(Environment Canada, 2009b).
Ongoing Activities and Issues
c-PentaBDE and c-OctaBDE
PBDE congeners found in c-pentaBDE and c-octaBDE are widely distributed in soil,
sediments and living organisms, including humans. PBDEs have been found in human tissue,
blood and breast milk. The predominant congeners present tend to be the lower brominated
forms (i.e., tetraBDE and pentaBDE). Infants and children as well as people who are
occupationally exposed may be exposed at higher levels than the general public.
These chemicals persist in the environment and remain biologically available for a
significant period of time. Some reports indicate their levels in both the environment and living
organisms, including humans, are increasing. There are reports that these chemicals biomagnify
as evidenced by high levels reported in some predators such as falcons, dolphins and seals. The
presence of PBDEs in remote environments, such as the arctic, indicates that they may be subject
to long range transport. The environmental fate and transport, as well as the routes of exposure
for humans and other organisms, are not fully understood.
Exposure to PBDEs raises concerns for adverse effects to both humans and wildlife.
EPA's IRIS database identifies neurobehavioral effects as the critical endpoint of concern for the
principal congeners present in c-pentaBDE and c-octaBDE. Laboratory studies have shown that
congeners associated with c-pentaBDE and c-octaBDE are capable of producing adverse effects
in a variety of organisms including birds, mammals, and fish. In some cases these effects were
observed at exposures levels similar to levels found in the environment.
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c-PentaBDE and c-octaBDE were withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004. Each of the
congeners contained in them is subject to a significant new use rule and may not be produced or
imported in to the U.S. without advance notice to the EPA. The SNUR does not address articles
to which these chemicals have been added. Although it does not appear that treated articles are
currently being imported, that activity, if it were to resume, could be a potential source of
exposure to PBDEs for humans and the environment.
c-DecaBDE
DecaBDE is expected to be persistent in the environment. It is widely found in sediments,
sewage sludge, and dust particles in indoor air. Some reports indicate that environmental
concentrations are increasing.
There is evidence that decaBDE is entering the food chain and biomagnifying. It has been
found at high levels in predators such as peregrine falcons. There are very little data on the
environmental toxicity of decaBDE; however there have been reports that it can be metabolized
in organisms to lower brominated forms with known toxic effects.
EPA's IRIS database identifies neurobehavioral effects as the critical endpoint of concern
for decaBDE. EPA also proposed that the data support a finding of "suggestive evidence of
carcinogenic potential".
Human exposure to decaBDE may occur in the home or work environment through the
use of products to which it has been added. Exposure may also occur as a result of exposure to
house dust containing decaBDE.
Although decaBDE is still being manufactured, imported and processed in the U.S., the
Agency believes that there are suitable alternatives for all major uses of the chemical.
Furthermore, the Agency believes that persons engaging in these activities are likely to
voluntarily discontinue them.
Children's Health
PBDEs are a concern for children's health. The most sensitive outcome of PBDE
exposure is adverse neurobehavioral effects following exposure during the postnatal period.
PBDEs are used as flame retardants in many household products, and consequently PBDEs are
present in house dust and environmental media (e.g., air, food). Children's exposures to PBDEs
are greater than those of adults due to higher intakes of food, water, and air per pound of body
weight, as well as child-specific exposure pathways such as breast milk consumption and
increased contact with the floor. International biomonitoring data report that children have the
highest exposures to PBDEs; biomonitoring data have found PBDEs in cord blood and human
milk. Some evidence suggests that there is an overlap in the range of PBDE toxicity and the
range of current exposures. Thus, given the pervasive exposure to PBDEs, the persistence and
bioaccumulation of PBDEs in the environment, and studies finding deleterious health effects,
EPA believes risk management actions are warranted to insure adequate protection of children's
health.
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X. Next Steps
In conducting this review of PBDEs, EPA considered a number of potential risk
management actions, including regulatory actions under TSCA sections 4, 5 and 6; cooperative
activities with other federal agencies; and voluntary actions through such programs as Design for
the Environment (DfE).
Based on its screening-level review of hazard and exposure information EPA intends to
initiate actions to protect the humans and the environment from exposure to PBDE congeners of
concern due to manufacture (including import) of commercial PBDEs and/or articles to which
they have been added.
On the basis of existing information, the Agency believes that the following actions would be
warranted:
1.	Initiate rulemaking to propose a TSCA significant new use rule (SNUR). The significant
new use would be manufacture or import of articles to which c-pentaBDE or c-octaBDE
has been added. This designation would require anyone who intends to manufacture or
import articles to which these chemical substances have been added to notify EPA at least
90 days in advance. The required notification would provide EPA with the opportunity to
evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, to prohibit or limit the activity before it
occurs. A notice of proposed rulemaking is intended to publish in 2010.
2.	Support and encourage the voluntary phase out of manufacture and import of c-decaBDE.
a)	As a result of negotiations with EPA, several companies have announced that they
will undertake a three year phaseout of decaBDE. They have committed to initiate
reductions of manufacture, import and sales of decaBDE starting in 2010. Ordinary
production, import and sales of decaBDE would cease no later than December 31,
2012. Certain uses such as transportation uses or military applications may require an
additional year to phase out. In any case the companies would cease sales for these
uses no later than December 31, 2013.
(http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/deccadbe.html)
b)	EPA intends to encourage other importers of decaBDE to join this effort.
c)	The voluntary phase out is not designed to address articles made with c-decaBDE..
Recycling of materials containing decaBDE would also not be affected by the
commitment.
3.	Initiate rulemaking to simultaneously propose a SNUR and a test rule for c-decaBDE in
2010.
a)	The SNUR would designate manufacture (including import) of c-decaBDE or articles
to which c-decaBDE has been added as a significant new use. Essential uses and any
other uses which have not been voluntarily phased out would not be included in the
SNUR. The SNUR would be promulgated after the voluntary phase out is complete;
b)	The test rule under section 4 of TSCA would require development of information
necessary to determine the effects that manufacturing, use or other activities
involving c-decaBDE have on human health or the environment;
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If the Agency determines that any manufacture (including import) of c-decaBDE or
articles to which c-decaBDE has been added has not ceased, it intends to promulgate the
test rule.
4.	Initiate rulemaking under section 5(b)(4) of TSCA to add the commercial PBDE mixtures
and/or the congeners they contain to the list of chemicals which present or may present
an unreasonable risk to health or the environment. A notice of proposed rulemaking is
intended to publish in autumn, 2010.
5.	Develop an alternatives analysis for c-decaBDE. The alternatives analysis, which is
intended to begin in spring 2010, will evaluate the efficacy, availability, cost and hazard
levels of alternatives for a subset of critical uses of c-decaBDE. As part of its inquiry,
EPA will explore the potential risks presented by PBDE substitutes. The alternatives
analysis is intended to aid users of c-decaBDE in selecting suitable alternatives and
avoiding unintended consequences.
As part of the Agency's efforts to address these chemicals, EPA intends to evaluate the
potential for disproportionate impact on children and other sub-populations. The Agency will
also continue to analyze the science as it pertains to making any necessary findings for the
rulemakings indicated above
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