Brominated Flame Retardants (BFR) in the Nordic Environment

image of Brominated Flame Retardants (BFR) in the Nordic Environment

The present report describe the results of screening analyses of the occurrence of ”new” brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in environmental samples from the Nordic countries. The aim of the screening was to establish whether, and if then to what extent, the non-polybrominated diphenyl eters BFRs are present at detectable levels in the environment. If the substances subjected for screening are found in amounts which are potentially harmful for the environment this will be followed up on national level. The Nordic screening project is run by a project group with representatives from the National Environmental Research Institute, University of Aarhus Denmark, the Finnish Environment Institute, the Environment and Food Agency of Iceland, the Environment Agency of the Faroe Islands, the Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. The project is supported by the Nordic Chemicals Group and the Aquatic Ecosystems Group as well as the participating institutions. The chemical analyses have been carried out jointly by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL).




Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are used to reduce the flammability of polymeric materials and have been utilized in commercial materials for several decades. BFRs can be either additive or reactive. Additive flame retardants are incorporated into the polymer prior to, during or more frequently after polymerization. They are used especially in thermoplastics. Additive BFRs are monomer molecules that are not chemically bound to the polymer, so that over time they may migrate out of the product into the environment. In contrast, reactive flame retardants are added during the polymerization process and are chemically bound to material in the product. The bound chemicals are not released from products, but residual, unreacted flame retardants present in the product can be released. Reactive flame retardants are mainly used in thermosets, especially polyester, epoxy resins and polyurethanes.


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