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Media Release - FLAME RETARDANT RISKS NEED MORE INVESTIGATION

 

05 Jun 2001


The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) today released the report on its preliminary assessment of polybrominated flame retardants (PBFRs), undertaken after concerns were raised about their health and environmental effects.

PBFRs are not manufactured in Australia but imported as pure chemicals or mixtures, or in polymer resins or extruded polystyrene foam boards.

The primary health concerns revolve around the potential of some PBFRs to act as carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and neurodevelopmental toxicants.

PBFRs are used in furnishing, textiles, foams and building and engineering, as well as car and electronics manufacturing.

There is a potential for exposure among workers who are involved in the formulation of flame retarded resins and polymers, particularly where weighing and mixing are carried out in manual and open systems, and where minimal personal protective equipment is used.

Given the widespread public contact with products containing PBFRs in Australia, and the lack of information about exposure levels for the general public, it is currently not possible to determine whether their use poses any risks.

NICNAS therefore recommends that a full risk assessment be considered for this group of chemicals, following completion of testing overseas under an OECD chemical safety program.

The full text of the report is available from the NICNAS website at the PEC 20 page.
 

About NICNAS

The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) operates under the Commonwealth Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989.

NICNAS is a statutory scheme within the portfolio of the Minister for Health and Ageing. Its approach to the scientific assessment of chemicals covers toxicity, exposure and use to assess the environmental, public health and occupational health and safety risk. For more information see the web site www.nicnas.gov.au
 

Further information

Nick Miller, NICNAS, (02) 8577 8810 or 0407 228 285

 

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