By Michael Lauzon, Plastics News Correspondent
Ottowa-Canada's federal government is proposing controls on brominated flame retardants widely used in flexible foam and plastics.
The health and environment ministries published their proposals on polybrominated diphenyl ethers in the 1 July issue of Canada Gazette, where the federal government announces regulatory intentions. The ministries also gave notice of regulatory plans for perfluorooctane sulfonates, widely used as stain repellents in textiles, carpets and upholstery.
Ottawa proposes to treat all PBDEs as toxic. It wants to eliminate use of PDBEs with four, five and six bromine atoms, many of which are no longer made in industrialised countries. It also wants to list decabromo diphenyl ether, still widely used as a plastics flame retardant, as toxic and thus subject to regulations to restrict its use.
The decabromo proposal could lead to stricter controls on decabromo than exist in the US and European Union.
An official with the Bromine Science and Environmental Foundation said he found it significant that Ottawa is not proposing to eliminate the decabromo chemical, but that the foundation is not happy with government intentions.
"[BSEF] disagrees with the listing of deca as a controlled toxic substance," said John Kyte, North American programme director for BSEF. "We will detail our concerns on this."
The proposed federal strategy is open to discussion and consultation with industry, but "we can't speculate as to what will happen," said Environment Ministry spokesman Ryan Sparrow.
Publication in Canada Gazette is an official step in the regulatory process, but there is no set timetable of when discussion is cut off, Sparrow said.
Kyte said the published notice came after about two years of industry/government consultation and it could be another two years before Canada will take action.
Kyte said BSEF soon will expand its activities in North America as it focuses on keeping the deca chemical a viable commercial product to make plastics flame retardant. This year BSEF will bring its Voluntary Emissions Control Action Programme to North America after running it for two years in Europe.
"We hope to launch it in the next few months," Kyte said in a telephone interview. In the programme, BSEF works with decabromo users to reduce emissions as much as possible.
Decabromo is not made in Canada. Canada imported about 3 million pounds (1.36 kilotonnes) of PBDEs in 2000, of which most was pentabromo compounds followed by decabromo and octabromo types. Import volumes have shrunk as pentabromo and octabromo types fell out of favour. Electrical and electronic components, appliances, wire and cable, upholstery and cushioning are key markets for PBDEs."