An overview of policies for managing polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the Great Lakes basin
Review articleOpen access

AbstractThe Great Lakes are an important environmental and economic resource for Canada and the United States. The ecological integrity of the Great Lakes, however, is becoming increasingly threatened by a number of persistent, bio-accumulative and harmful chemicals that enter the Great Lakes ecosystem through fluvial and atmospheric deposition. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a class of brominated flame retardant, are among such chemicals, whose concentration in the Great Lakes has greatly increased in recent years. Despite growing concern over the possible health and environmental effects of these compounds, only four of the eight Great Lakes states have enacted regulations to ban/restrict the use of PBDE while the two Canadian Great Lakes provinces are yet to endorse any regulation. Of the three main commercial PBDE mixtures (pentaBDE, octaBDE and decaBDE), penta- and octaBDE are no longer manufactured or imported into the United States and Canada. DecaBDE, however, still finds use in a variety of products.In the present paper, the authors review the current regulations and policies for managing PBDEs in the Great Lakes jurisdictions and briefly review commercially available non-bromine chemical alternatives to PBDE. As these alternatives are comparatively more expensive than PBDE, future adoption of more eco-friendly flame retardants by the polymer industry will likely depend on stricter legislation regulating the use of PBDE and/or an increased public demand for PBDE-free products.

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