EPA proposes further restrictions on flame retardant chemical used in wiring
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing stricter rules for a chemical that’s already been prohibited in many cases.
Decabromodiphenyl ether –called decaBDE- is a flame retardant that’s been used in cables and wiring in nuclear power plants, aerospace and automotive vehicles.
The EPA describes the chemical as "persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic." Health effects include damage to the development of the central nervous system and reproductive problems.
The EPA prohibited most uses of decaBDE in 2021. Where it’s still used, this new rule would require more personal protective equipment for workers and restrict releases into water during manufacturing and processing.
"It would also address broader implementation issues affecting the supply chains of various industry sectors, including the nuclear energy sector, transportation, construction, agriculture, forestry, mining, life sciences, and semiconductor production," the EPA said.
The EPA proposed rule comes after the Toxic Substances Control Act directed EPA to take expedited action on decaBDE.
Besides the risk to human health, there have been calls to reduced the use of similar flame retardants because of high levels in wildlife. See stories below.