WSR 08-23-096

DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY


[ Filed November 19, 2008, 11:05 a.m. ]

"Alternatives to Deca-BDE in Televisions, Computers, and Furniture" is now available for public comment. Comments are due no later than 5:00 p.m., December 17, 2008.

To download a copy of the report visit http://www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/0807062.html. For a hard copy of the report contact Kathy Vermillion at (360) 407-6916. Send your comments to Carol Kraege, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, or ckra461@ecy.wa.gov.

The departments of ecology (ecology) and health (DOH) completed this report to identify and assess the availability of safer and technically feasible alternatives to the flame retardant Deca-BDE for use in electronic enclosures of TVs and computers and in residential upholstered furniture. The report documents the alternatives assessment conducted by the agencies. This report was written to fulfill the requirements of chapter 70.76 RCW, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers -- Flame retardants, signed into law by Governor Gregoire in 2007.

Conclusions: Safer, technically feasible alternatives to the use of Deca-BDE in electronic enclosures of TVs and computers and in residential upholstered furniture are available and meet applicable fire safety standards. As a result of these findings chapter 70.76 RCW requires that the restrictions on the use of Deca-BDE in the following products will take effect on January 1, 2011: TVs and computers and residential upholstered furniture.

Requirements in the Law: Chapter 70.76 RCW restricts the manufacture, sale and distribution of products containing a type of chemical flame retardant called PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers). The three types of PBDEs used in consumer products are Penta-BDE, Octa-BDE and Deca-BDE. The prohibition became effective for all products containing Penta-BDE and Octa-BDE, and for mattresses containing Deca-BDE in January 2008.

Use of Deca-BDE will be prohibited in electronic enclosures of TVs and computers and in residential upholstered furniture two years after ecology and DOH jointly find that less toxic, technically feasible alternative flame retardants are available. Ecology and DOH have made this finding. Having done so, chapter 70.76 RCW requires that a committee of fire safety experts, appointed by the governor and convened by ecology, determine if the identified alternatives meet applicable fire safety standards. The fire safety committee met on November 7, 2008, and found that the identified alternatives meet applicable fire safety standards.

Summary of the Report:

TVs and Computers: After reviewing recent studies, reports and other information, ecology and DOH narrowed their analysis to two possible phosphate-based flame retardants for final consideration: Resorcinol bisdiphenyl phosphate (RDP) and triphenyl phosphate (TPP). TPP was eliminated due to concerns related to its aquatic toxicity.

Rating of the flammability of plastic enclosures is a voluntary standard identified by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in conjunction with the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) which defines the specific method. The agencies presented information to the fire safety committee on the performance of RDP compared with Deca-BDE when used in electronic enclosures. RDP performs as well as Deca-BDE, although a different type of plastic has to be used. Chapter 70.76 RCW requires the fire safety committee to vote on whether or not the alternative identified by the agencies meets applicable fire safety standards. The committee unanimously found that RDP meets applicable fire safety standards.

Residential Upholstered Furniture: For residential upholstered furniture, ecology and DOH relied on information from the consumer product safety commission (CPSC) indicating the availability of furniture design options that do not require the addition of chemical flame retardants. Ecology and DOH decided that achieving fire safety by redesign without the use of flame retardants is the best possible way to replace Deca-BDE. Under the CPSC's proposed flammability standard for residential upholstered furniture, fire safety can be achieved without the use of flame retardants. For example, many natural cover materials or inherently flame retardant internal barrier materials, similar to what is currently used in mattresses, can be used. Although the CPSC flammability standard has not been finalized, it is expected that design options that preclude the use of Deca-BDE will be available to meet any additional requirements in a final standard. The fire safety committee unanimously found that existing nonchemical design options meet applicable fire safety standards.

Report Findings: Ecology and DOH found that safer, technically feasible alternatives to Deca-BDE are available for use in TVs and computers and in residential upholstered furniture.

The Washington state fire marshal determined that these identified alternatives meet applicable fire safety standards.

For questions please contact Carol Kraege at (360) 407-6906, ckra461@ecy.wa.gov, or Denise Laflamme at (360) 236-3174, denise.laflamme@doh.wa.gov.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office