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Computer Takeback Campaign Blasts BFRs
Environmentalists have issued
a new report blasting the presence of deca-PBDEs, a common brominated
flame retardant (BFR), in dust from computer monitors - though
the bromine industry trade association says such low levels of
exposure are not harmful to humans.
The Computer Take-Back Campaign
(CTBC) and Clean Production Action (CPA) issued a report June
3 saying that toxic fire retardants were discovered in dust taken
from computer monitors in public locations such as offices and
This and other reports say the
chemicals are known to be reproductive and neurological hazards
in animal lab tests. The highest levels found were a form of polybrominated
diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) called deca-BDE. PBDEs are increasingly
being found in human tissue and breast milk samples here in the
U.S. and abroad, the report stated.
Peter O'Toole, U.S. Program Director
of the Bromine Science and Environmental Forum (BSEF), said that
while they are still looking at the data from the study, the deca-BDE
detection level appears to be very low and the study sample very
He said the levels found in the
study are similar to those in a study by the Environmental Working
Group (EWG), and "a person would have to ingest about eighty
pounds of dust samples from the EWG study in one day to go over
the acceptable limit of toxic exposure."
Three forms of BFRs are already
addressed in the Restrictions on Hazardous Substances Directive
in Europe: octa, penta- and deca-BDEs. Octa- and penta-BDEs are
no longer used in Europe, and will be phased out in the U.S. by
the end of this year.
There is still controversy over
whether deca-BDEs will actually be banned in Europe, as the European
Commission is waiting for further studies.
In the U.S. four states have
already banned octa- and penta-BDE's, and Maine's new law would
follow Europe and ban deca-BDEs by 2008 if alternatives are available.
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