October 15, 2020

EPA: Use of HBCD in Building, Construction Materials Poses Risks to Workers

EPA’s final risk evaluation for cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster chemicals, including hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), identifies “unreasonable” risks to workers related to the use of HBCD in building and construction materials. According to EPA, these risks are associated with both acute and chronic inhalation exposures when personal protective equipment is not used during the commercial installation of building and construction materials and during disposal or demolition. Potential health effects related to these exposures include thyroid hormone effects, liver effects, reproductive effects, and developmental effects.

For its final risk evaluation, EPA reviewed 12 conditions of use associated with HBCD, including as a flame retardant in building materials, solder paste, recycled plastics, and automobile replacement parts. The agency found no unreasonable risks to the general population from any conditions of use and noted that HBCD does not pose an unreasonable risk for use in consumer products. EPA’s final risk evaluation identifies six conditions of use that present unreasonable risks to the environment, specifically for aquatic and sediment-dwelling organisms: the import, processing, recycling, commercial use, consumer use, and disposal of HBCD.

EPA’s draft risk evaluation for HBCD, published in July 2019, reviewed only eight conditions of use. At that time, the agency stated that HBCD presents no unreasonable risks to the general population, workers, and the environment.

Under Toxic Substances Control Act legislation, EPA has two years to finalize actions to address the unreasonable risks identified in its final risk evaluation of HBCD. The agency states that these proposed regulations could include requirements on how HBCD is used. EPA’s actions may also limit or prohibit the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal of HBCD.