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Electronics Production | May 26, 2010

IPC strives for genuine benefits to environment and human health in EU legislation

In communications sent to Members of the European Parliament last week, IPC lent its support to the adoption of RoHS Directive proposed amendments 197 through 203.
These amendments support the use of a rigorous scientific methodology to evaluate additional restricted substances and their alternatives.

The proposed amendments include: ALDE amendment 197 from MEP Chris Davies; ALDE and EPP amendment 200 from MEPs Holger Krahmer and Anja Weigerber; EPP amendments 198 from MEP Boguslaw Sonik, 199 from MEP Sergio Berlato, 201 from MEP Christofer Fjellner, and 204 from MEPs Françoise Grossetête and Catherine Soullie; EFD amendment 202 from MEP Oreste Rossi; and ECR amendment 203 from MEP Julie Girling.

“While supporting amendments 197 through 203, IPC has taken exception to other proposed RoHS amendments that would ban all brominated flame retardants (BFRs) without a scientific evaluation because they will provide neither environmental nor human health benefits,” says Fern Abrams, IPC director of environmental policy and government relations.

Abrams pointed out that while some BFRs, such as Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBBs), have been identified as toxic, restricted under the RoHS Directive, and voluntarily withdrawn from the market, other BFRs, such as Tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA), have been safely used in electronic products for decades. The World Health Organization and the European Commission Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) conducted separate, comprehensive scientific assessments of TBBPA and both groups found TBBPA to be safe for human health and the environment.

“Furthermore,” Abrams said, “support for the removal of BFRs based on concerns about dioxin formation during incomplete, unregulated burning outside of the European Union also fails scientific analysis, in that it will do nothing to address the formation of highly carcinogenic and persistent polyaromatic hydrocarbons that are generated in any incomplete combustion process, regardless of whether the electronics contain BFRs. A real solution to poor end-of-life practices would be to set and enforce standards ensuring use of protective end-of-life management practices including recycling and modern, controlled incineration where recycling is not feasible.”

Abrams explains that a report recently published by Chemsec only focuses on the technical feasibility of removing BFRs from a select few electronics products; however, the report provides no indication of any environmental benefit in removing the BFRs. Moreover, the report does not identify the alternative flame retardants used and whether they are better for human health and the environment than the BFRs they are intended to replace.

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