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View Diary: White House Bows to Chemical Companies: US consumers beware (76 comments)

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  •  To clarify a few points (2+ / 0-)
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    Kasoru, cosmic debris

    First, the EU and Canada have not totally banned PBA compounds and it's important to differentiate between various formulations of these compounds and their forms of use.

    What the EU has banned is the use of unreacted PBA and PBDE as flame retardants in fabrics and clothing, particularly children's clothing and the use of these compounds in plastic used for food and toys for infants.

    They have also banned certain forms of bromine compounds from use in electronics but not, as many people seem to believe, all of these compounds; particularly, PBBPA is still commonly used.

    Many producers of consumer products, particularly those for infants, have voluntarily banned bromine, PVC and phthalates from their products and they usually state so clearly on labeling as sales point. As a chemist, I'm pretty aware of hazard and caring for my own child we have been quite careful to check labels for anything plastic (or avoid it) and found it was not difficult to avoid these substances since most brands are global and have to meet various regulations, hence, these materials have generally been eliminated. But if people have doubts, company websites usually have safety information. If you are not sure, don't use it.

    The use of PBA in plastics comes in 2 basic forms, unreacted PBA with has high bioavailability and can be leached out of plastics, and reacted PBA compounds (typically PBBPA) which are added to plastics (e.g., epoxies, polycarbonates, etc) at the point of polymer backbone synthesis, chemically entraining it in the polymer where it remains unless the polymer is decomposed (such as by fire, which is the point of adding it as a flame retardant).

    So I have to say that (a) the main risk people should be concerned with is the use of unreacted PBA as textiles flame retardants and the use of unreacted BPA and phthalates contained in plastics in contact with food, particularly infant case items and (b) understand that BPA is used in various technical plastics in applications where they are not easily replaced but don't really present a hazard to consumers.

    Total banning of BPA, phthalates and PVC is not actually practical at this point since they are essential materials for some technical and medical uses and I know of no country that has totally banned these substances. If any does know of any enacting total bans, please point me to the laws because I'd be very interested to find that. Generally, Denmark has the most stringent restrictions and they still allow some uses.

    Lastly, the term "substance of concern" or "substance of very high concern" is typically used for substances subject to regulation and restricted use, the more common acronym "SVHC" designating the banned or severely restricted substances (rooted in EU law but used internationally).

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