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POPs Recycling Contaminates Children's Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants

Authors:
  • Arnika/IPEN
POPS RECYCLING CONTAMINATES
CHILDREN’S TOYS WITH TOXIC FLAME
RETARDANTS
Joseph DiGangi, Ph.D.
Jitka Strakova
Lee Bell
Updated November 2017
POPS RECYCLING CONTAMINATES CHILDREN’S TOYS WITH TOXIC
FLAME RETARDANTS
Joseph DiGangi, PhD, IPEN
Jitka Strakova, Arnika Association
Lee Bell, IPEN
Original report released April 2017
Updated report released November 2017
Established in 1998, IPEN is currently comprised of over 500 Participating
Organizations in 116 countries, primarily developing and transition countries.
IPEN brings together leading environmental and public health groups around
the world to establish and implement safe chemicals policies and practices
that protect human health and the environment.IPEN’s mission is a toxics-free
future for all.
IPEN gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by the
Government of Sweden and other donors that made the production of
this document possible. The expressed views and interpretations herein
shall not necessarily be taken to reflect the official opinion of any of the
institutions providing financial support. Responsibility for the content lies
entirely with IPEN.
POPs Recycling Contaminates Children’s Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants (November 2017) 3
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Recycling plastics containing toxic flame retardant chemicals found in elec-
tronic waste results in contamination of new plastic children’s toys and related
products. The substances include octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE), deca-
bromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE), and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). This
study found all three toxic chemicals in recycled plastic children’s products. In a
survey of products from 26 countries, 90% of the samples contained OctaBDE
or DecaBDE. Nearly half of them (43%) contained HBCD. Recycling materials
that contain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other toxic substances
contaminates new products, continues human and environmental exposure,
and undermines the credibility of recycling.
OctaBDE and DecaBDE are widely used in electrical equipment and are pri-
mary toxic components of electronic waste (e-waste). HBCD is primarily used
in polystyrene building insulation but is also found in electronic equipment.
HBCD, OctaBDE and DecaBDE are listed in the Stockholm Convention for
global elimination. Note that OctaBDE is subject to an exemption that permits
recycling of materials containing the substance. The treaty’s expert commit-
tee has warned against this practice and COP9 can decide whether to continue
it. The expert committee explicitly recommended to “…eliminate brominated
diphenyl ethers from the recycling streams as swiftly as possible” noting that,
Failure to do so will inevitably result in wider human and environmental con-
tamination and the dispersal of brominated diphenyl ethers into matrices from
which recovery is not technically or economically feasible and in the loss of the
long-term credibility of recycling” (UNEP/POPS/COP.5/15).
The Stockholm Convention contains hazardous waste limits known as “low
POPs content” levels that define the value at which wastes are considered to
be POPs wastes and therefore must be addressed according to strict treaty
obligations. The 8th Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention
(COP8) decided that countries can choose a low POP content level of either
100 or 1000 mg/kg for HBCD, and a low POP content level of either 50 or
1000 mg/kg for Hexa-, Hepta-, Tetra-, and PentaBDE as a sum (meaning
commercial PentaBDE and OctaBDE). Since DecaBDE was listed at COP8,
its low POP content limit will be decided at COP9. The limit will very likely be
defined as a sum of all PBDEs listed in the Convention (commercial Penta-,
Octa-, and DecaBDE).
This study found samples of children’s products exceeding hazardous waste
limits. For example, 43 samples (39%) contained OctaBDE at levels greater
than 50 mg/kg –one of the hazardous waste limits decided at COP8 (and the
limit proposed by IPEN). One sample exceeded the higher limit of 1000 mg/
4
kg. For HBCD, 7 samples (7%) contained HBCD at concentrations higher than
100 mg/kg –one of the hazardous waste limits decided at COP8 (and the limit
proposed by IPEN). Two samples exceeded the higher proposed level of 1000
mg/kg. Finally, 48 samples (43%) contained DecaBDE at levels that exceeded
the current hazardous waste limit for PCBs (50 mg/kg), which they strongly
resemble in structure and adverse effects. The data illustrates the importance of
protective hazardous waste limits since weak standards could encourage toxic
recycling and waste dumping in the absence of national regulations prohibiting
the practices.
Two Stockholm Convention measures that could help address toxic recycling
are: 1) to end the current recycling exemptions; and 2) set protective limits for
substances in wastes so that they are subjected to treaty obligations for destruc-
tion. Sustainable waste management and a circular economy are not compat-
ible with toxic chemicals being recycled into new consumer products.
IPEN RECOMMENDATIONS
COP9 should end the toxic recycling exemption for brominated diphenyl
ethers in parts IV and V of Annex A.
COP9 should adopt the following low POPs content levels:
°HBCD: 100 mg/kg (100 ppm)
°PDBEs as a sum: 50 mg/kg (50 ppm)
POPs Recycling Contaminates Children’s Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants (November 2017) 5
INTRODUCTION
Brominated flame retardants have been widely added to foam and plas-
tics used in consumer and electronic products. Pentabromodiphenyl ether
(PentaBDE) has been used extensively in polyurethane foam, but also appears
in electronics. Octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE) has been used in acrylo-
nitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and other plastics used in electronics such as
office equipment. Decabromodiphenyl either (DecaBDE) is widely found in
plastics used in electronics and is a common component of electronic waste.
Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD or HBCDD) was mainly applied in extruded
and expanded polystyrene foam for building insulation, but also in video cas-
sette recorder housing and electronics. These chemicals are known to disrupt
human hormone systems, adversely impacting the development of the nervous
system and children’s intelligence. All four substances or their commercial mix-
tures are listed in Annex A of the Stockholm Convention for global elimination.
Plastics or other materials containing POPs could be subject to the treaty’s
waste provisions depending on their levels of contamination. The Stockholm
Convention contains hazardous waste limits known as “low POPs content”
levels (LPCL) that define the value at which wastes are considered to be POPs
wastes according to the concentration of POPs they contain. Wastes containing
POPs above the LPCL must be addressed according to strict treaty obligations.
Weak standards could encourage toxic recycling and waste dumping in the
absence of national regulations prohibiting the practices.
In 2009, COP4 created an exemption that permits recycling of plastics, foam,
and other materials containing commercial PentaBDE and OctaBDE until
2030. Due to concerns about the possible impacts of this recycling exemption,
COP4 requested the treaty’s expert committee to examine its implications.
Subsequently, the expert committee known as the POPs Review Committee
(POPRC), developed recommendations on the recycling exemption for COP5.
The Committee warned against the practice and recommended to,“…eliminate
brominated diphenyl ethers from the recycling streams as swiftly as possible”
noting that, “Failure to do so will inevitably result in wider human and envi-
ronmental contamination and the dispersal of brominated diphenyl ethers into
matrices from which recovery is not technically or economically feasible and in
the loss of the long-term credibility of recycling.” (UNEP/POPS/COP.5/15)
This study asked whether flame retardants found in e-waste are carried into
new consumer products as a result of plastic recycling as predicted by the
POPRC technical report. We examined OctaBDE, HBCD, and DecaBDE in
Rubik’s cubes, a children’s product usually made of recycled plastic, along with
several other types of plastic toys.
6
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Rubik’s cubes and several other consumer goods were screened for bromine
using a handheld XRF analyzer to identify samples with significant bromine
levels (hundreds of ppm). Positive samples were analyzed for PBDEs and
HBCD at the Institute of Chemical Technology, an accredited laboratory in
the Czech Republic. Brominated flame retardants were extracted by n-hexane
and the leachate transferred into isooctane. Identification and quantification
of flame retardants was accessed via gas chromatography/mass spectrometry
in the mode of electron ionization (GC-MS/MS-EI). The main components of
congeners listed in the Stockholm Convention were analyzed with a detection
limit of 0.1 ppb for PBDEs and 3 ppb for HBCD.
POPs Recycling Contaminates Children’s Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants (November 2017) 7
RESULTS
Laboratory analysis of 95 Rubik’s cubes and 16 additional samples (includ-
ing a thermo cup, hair clips, combs, headdresses, and children’s toys) from 26
countries in various regions found 100 samples (90%) contained OctaBDE at
concentrations ranging from 1 to 1174 ppm.1 Ranges of the measured concen-
trations per country are summarized in Table 1 (Annex 1). Forty-three samples
(39%) contained OctaBDE at levels greater than 50 ppm – one of the LPCL for
PBDEs listed in the Stockholm Convention. One sample exceeded the higher
LPCL of 1000 ppm.
Results shown in Tables 1 and 2 (Annex 1) demonstrate that forty-five samples
(43%) contained HBCD at concentrations ranging from 1 to 1586 ppm. In
products in which it was measured, seven samples (7%) contained HBCD at
concentrations higher than 100 ppm – one of the possible LPCL thresholds for
HBCD. Two samples exceeded the higher level of 1000 ppm.
One-hundred-one samples (91%) contained DecaBDE at concentrations rang-
ing from 1 to 672 ppm (Tables 1 and 2 in Annex 1). Forty-eight of the samples
(43%) contained DecaBDE at levels greater than 50 ppm. Note that the pro-
visional definition for LPCL for DecaBDE has not yet been set but PBDEs
strongly resemble PCBs which have LPCL of 50 ppm.
Overall, the results indicate that toxic flame retardant chemicals found in
e-waste are widely present in children’s toys made of recycled plastic. Many
children’s products contained significant levels of these substances of 50 ppm
or greater. This includes three substances listed in the Stockholm Convention
(OctaBDE, DecaBDE, and HBCD).
1 Note that ppm and mg/kg are used interchangeably.
8
DISCUSSION
The data demonstrates that toxic flame retardant chemicals found in e-waste
are widely present in plastic children’s products such as Rubik’s cubes, car toys,
or children’s hair accessories. The results are consistent with the study of Chen
et al. (2009) which found PentaBDE, OctaBDE, DecaBDE and other flame
retardants in 80% of sampled plastic children’s toys. This survey also comple-
ments a recent study by Samsonek and Puype (2013) which found flame retar-
dants from electronic waste recycled into plastic food contact materials such as
thermo cups and kitchen utensils. A follow-up study in 2015 found DecaBDE
in food contact materials on the EU market such as thermo-cup lids and an egg
cutter made from recycled plastic (Puype et al. 2015). An analysis of toys made
of recycled plastic on the market in Belgium found commercial PentaBDE,
OctaBDE, and DecaBDE (Ionas et al. 2014). A single OctaBDE congener was
found in 22% of the toys and DecaBDE was found in 16% of them. This is con-
sistent with an analysis of the PentaBDE and OctaBDE (POP-BDEs) stream in
the Netherlands by Leslie et al. (2013) which found that 22% of the POP-BDEs
in waste electrical and electronic equipment is expected to end up in recycled
plastics. In Australia, an analysis of 1714 plastic products or components of
TVs and small appliances found OctaBDE congeners in 31% of them at levels
ranging from 51 – 6805 ppm (Gallen et al. 2014). A Stockholm Convention
secretariat review of this issue noted that these levels (and the ones found this
study) are below those needed for flame retardancy suggesting that the sub-
stances were present as a result of recycling (UNEP/POPS/COP.8/INF/12). The
problem of recycling materials containing POPs and contaminating new prod-
ucts also occurs in recycled foam products such as carpet padding (DiGangi et
al.2011). Two key aspects to address the toxic recycling issue in the Stockholm
Convention are the values set for LPCL and the recycling exemption.
LOW POPS CONTENT LEVELS AND POPS WASTES
The Stockholm Convention aims to reduce and eliminate all releases of POPs
and includes measures to address releases from stockpiles and wastes in Article
6. This includes establishment of LPCLs which are a crucial tool to control
potential releases of POPs due to improper handling of POPs wastes. LPCLs
define the value at which wastes are considered to be POPs wastes and there-
fore must be “Disposed of in such a way that the persistent organic pollutant
content is destroyed or irreversibly transformed” (Stockholm Convention Article
6.1 d ii). Thus, LPCLs are crucial for defining which wastes are hazardous ac-
cording their POPs content. The accompanying technical guidelines are impor-
tant for providing appropriate methods and options for POPs waste disposal. In
the absence of national regulations, strict LPCLs may be the only mechanism to
prevent widespread transboundary movements of POPs-contaminated prod-
POPs Recycling Contaminates Children’s Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants (November 2017) 9
ucts and wastes, accelerating the rate and scope of human exposure to POPs.
Strict LPCLs will also restrict the amount of contaminated materials entering
the recycling chain.
VALUES FOR LOW POPS CONTENT LEVELS DECIDED AT COP8 AND TO
BE RECONSIDERED AT COP9
The values assigned to LPCLs for all listed POPs were decided at COP8 (please
see UNEP/CHW.13/6/Add.1Rev.1). Proposals for the decision on LPCLs at
COP8 were developed by a Basel Convention Small Intersessional Working
Group. All LPCLs are important, but the levels for PBDEs and HBCD are espe-
cially relevant for this study.
There are two LPCL options for OctaBDE and two for HBCD. The option
for the OctaBDE LPCL combines two OctaBDE congeners (HexaBDE
and HeptaBDE) and the two listed PentaBDE congeners (TetraBDE and
PentaBDE). The newly added congener of DecaBDE will very likely be com-
bined into the LPCL for PBDEs as a sum. Delegates at COP8 decided on a
LPCL of either 50 ppm or 1000 ppm as a sum of the four originally listed
congeners (UNEP/CHW.13/6/Add.1Rev.1). These numbers come from a com-
prehensive report elaborated by EU consultants (ESWI and BiPRO 2011). The
report initially recommended using a provisional LPCL of 200 ppm for the
five individual substances, which is the origin of the 1000 ppm LPCL proposal.
However, the report noted that these initial levels were only intended to be for
a “restricted time frame in order to facilitate enforcement” (ESWI and BiPRO
2011). Lower levels were proposed for greater protection of human health and
the environment.
At COP9, Parties will be invited to describe use of the LPCLs, including their
incorporation into national legislation – particularly where there is a choice
between two levels. This process provides an opportunity to decide on more
protective LPCLs for PBDEs and HBCD. The more protective LPCLs for both
PBDEs and HBCD come from a report by EU consultants (ESWI and BiPRO
2011). For PBDEs, the consultants proposed lowering the threshold to 10 ppm
for each of the four PBDE substances by 2016, which was the origin of the
Basel Working Group’s proposal of 50 ppm LPCL. In a similar manner, the EU
consultants updated the LPCL limit for HBCD to 100 ppm from the current
limits of either 100 ppm or 1000 ppm. IPEN supports the lower LPCLs for both
PBDEs and HBCD. At COP9, it will be important for countries to document
their use of the lower LPCLs to provide a basis for adopting them.
The impact of the LPCL proposals can be seen in the presented data. If the
chosen LPCL for PentaBDE/OctaBDE is 50 ppm, then forty-three samples
(39%) exceed it. In contrast, if the chosen LPCL is 1000 ppm, then only 1
sample exceeds the LPCL limit. In a like manner, 7 samples exceeded a LPCL
10
for HBCD of 100 ppm but only 2 samples would exceed a 1000 ppm LPCL in
this study.
IMPLICATIONS OF LOW POPs CONTENT LEVELS
If weak LPCLs are adopted, then more POPs can flow into consumer products
and transboundary movement of POPs in contaminated materials such as
e-waste, incineration residues, polystyrene, or polyurethane foam will expand
and accelerate. The flow of this contaminated material is likely to be from
developed countries to developing countries where management costs are lower
and regulations are weaker. If this is allowed to happen, then the objectives of
the Stockholm and Basel Conventions will be undermined at the expense of
human health and the environment. This effect has already been demonstrated
by Breiviket al. (2011) due to POPs waste export from developed countries to
Africa and Asia. A secretariat review of PentaBDE and OctaBDE elimination
noted that,
“ It is estimated that at least 50 % of WEEE [waste electrical and elec-
tronic equipment] is collected outside of the official take-back systems
in the EU, part of which is then exported to developing countries as
used equipment or illegally. Illegal shipments originate mainly from
Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and the USA with common
destinations in Asia (including China, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan
and Vietnam) and Africa (including Ghana, Nigeria, and Benin). In
addition to WEEE, plastics from WEEE are also reported to be exported
to developing countries in Asia.” (UNEP/POPS/COP.8/INF/12)
A weak LPCL will enshrine this arrangement and unnecessarily expose new
populations to POPs when contaminated materials are shipped as recycled
materials or other products without restriction.
RECYCLING EXEMPTION FOR MATERIALS CONTAINING PENTABDE
AND OCTABDE
In 2009, COP4 created an exemption that permitted recycling of plastics, foam,
and other materials containing PentaBDE and OctaBDE until 2030. Due to
concerns about the possible impacts of this recycling exemption, COP4 re-
quested the treaty’s expert committee to examine its implications. Subsequently,
the expert committee known as the POPs Review Committee (POPRC) devel-
oped recommendations on the recycling exemption for COP5. The Committee
warned against the practice and recommended to “…eliminate brominated
diphenyl ethers from the recycling streams as swiftly as possible” noting that,
Failure to do so will inevitably result in wider human and environmental con-
tamination and the dispersal of brominated diphenyl ethers into matrices from
POPs Recycling Contaminates Children’s Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants (November 2017) 11
which recovery is not technically or economically feasible and in the loss of the
long-term credibility of recycling.” (UNEP/POPS/COP.5/15). For this reason, at
COP8, delegates rejected a proposal to allow the recycling of materials contain-
ing DecaBDE, a substance newly listed to the Convention in 2017.
RECYCLING EXEMPTION FOR HBCD REJECTED
In 2012, in its review of HBCD releases, the POPRC noted that, “the releases
from PS foam and recycling of electronic and electrical products in develop-
ing countries are of importance.” (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.7/19/Add.1)The
Committee further expressed concern about recycling materials containing
HBCD noting that, “HBCD will likely be spread into articles that will be dif-
ficult to identify, as previously determined by the POPRC for recycling products
containing pentaBDE and octaBDE.” Increasing the waste burden of POPs in
developing countries is another consequence of toxic recycling and exemptions
for use. The Committee expressed concern about “articles and products in use
containing hexabromocyclododecane being exported, especially to develop-
ing countries and countries with economies in transition.” (UNEP/POPS/
POPRC.8/16). At COP6, delegates rejected a proposal by the EU to allow recy-
cling of products containing HBCD due to concerns expressed by the POPRC in
its recommendations and by developing countries at the COP.
CONCERNS ABOUT THE STOCKHOLM CONVENTION PBDE RECYCLING
EXEMPTION AT COP8
At COP8, governments raised concerns about the contamination of products
as a result of the PBDE recycling exemption. As noted in the meeting report,
Several representatives said that continuing to allow the chemicals to be reused
in new products would contribute to their spread rather than their elimination
and, hence, increase the risks to human health and the environment in direct
contravention of the objectives of the Stockholm Convention.” (UNEP/POPS/
COP.8/32)
The COP8 decision on the review of PBDEs outlines concerns about the
recycling of materials containing the flame retardants (SC-8/4: Evaluation
and review of brominated diphenyl ethers). The decision notes that PBDEs,
have been detected in a range of articles in use, including plastic toys that are
not subject to flammability requirements, which suggests that their presence is
unintentional and possibly a consequence of the recycling of plastics contain-
ing brominated diphenyl ethers.” The consensus decision, “Urges Parties to take
determined steps to ensure that brominated diphenyl ethers are not introduced
into articles in which their presence would pose a risk of human exposure, in
particular consumer products such as children’s toys.” In addition, the decision
urges Parties that have registered for the recycling exemption, “to accelerate
12
efforts to prevent the export of articles that contain or may contain brominated
diphenyl ethers and of articles manufactured from recycled materials that con-
tain brominated diphenyl ethers.”
A regular review of exemptions for PBDEs will occur at COP10. Since the recy-
cling exemption is part of the treaty, ending it requires use of the amendment
process outlined in Article 21, which requires a six-month notification period.
This process could be undertaken at any upcoming COP.
SEPARATING PLASTICS CONTAINING FLAME RETARDANTS
To prevent toxic recycling, plastics containing flame retardants should be
separated. This can be accomplished using handheld XRF devices (x-ray
fluorescence) to detect bromine. In addition, a variety of cheap, simple meth-
ods exist that are applicable in all countries. These include the Beilstein test to
identify halogen-containing plastics and flotation techniques to separate them.
Flotation separation techniques have been used by waste pickers in developing
countries to separate brominated plastics from clean plastics with a high level
of success (Truc et al 2015). They can also be used by the informal plastics recy-
cling sector in India with an average removal efficiency of 96% using a solution
of fresh water and table salt (UNEP/POPS/COP.8/INF/12). The technical and
economic feasibility of these methods clashes with developed country claims
that economic considerations are a barrier to separate materials containing
brominated flame retardants (UNEP/POPS/COP.8/INF/12).
ENDING THE PBDE RECYCLING EXEMPTION
The secretariat review notes that a comprehensive analysis of PentaBDE and
OctaBDE elimination is not possible. However, it is clear from government
views expressed at COP8 and the secretariat and POPRC reviews that continu-
ing the flow of these substances into new products through recycling is not con-
sistent with Stockholm Convention objectives – especially when widely avail-
able, technically and economically feasible methods exist to address the issue.
IPEN supports ending the Stockholm Convention recycling exemption because
no convincing arguments for continuing it have been presented in the secre-
tariat’s review. In fact, the review confirms the flow of PentaBDE and OctaBDE
into consumer products and notes the availability of techniques for separating
materials containing brominated flame retardants. Toxic substances found in
e-waste should not be recycled into consumer products. Ending the Stockholm
Convention recycling exemption would reduce wider human and environmen-
tal contamination and help preserve the credibility of recycling
.
POPs Recycling Contaminates Children’s Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants (November 2017) 13
CONCLUSION
Recycling of plastics containing toxic flame retardant chemicals found in
electronic waste results in contamination of new plastic children’s products.
This extends human and environmental exposure and undermines the cred-
ibility of recycling. Toxic recycling and POPs wastes have significant impacts
in developing and transition countries. There is now compelling evidence that
environmental pollution is a major cause of death and illness in low and middle
income countries. These countries are least able to manage or mitigate such
threats because of their lack of capacity and sparse financial resources. In many
countries, ending the Stockholm Convention recycling exemption and apply-
ing strict LPCLs for POPs contained in e-waste and other POPs will be the only
global regulatory tool that can be used to prevent import and export of these
contaminated products and wastes.
14
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors would like to thank Alaska Community Action On Toxics (United
States), Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment (Armenia),
Arnika Association (Czech Republic), ALHem - Safer Chemicals Alternative
(Serbia), Balifokus Foundation (Indonesia), Casa Cem (Mexico), Centre
for Environmental Justice (Sri Lanka), Center for Environmental Justice
and Development (Kenya), Centre for Environmental Solutions (Belarus),
Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (Nepal), CETAP
(Brazil), ChemTrust (UK), Eco-Accord (Russia), Ecological Alert and Recovery
(Thailand), EcoWaste Coalition (Philippines), Environment and Social
Development Organization (Bangladesh), Greenpeace (Hungary), groundWork
(South Africa), Taller Ecologista (Argentina), Japan Endocrine-disruptor
Preventive Action (Japan), SRADev (Nigeria), Nature University (China), and
Toxics Link (India) for assisting with sampling.
IPEN gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by the
Government of Sweden and other donors that made the production of this
document possible. The expressed views and interpretations herein shall not
necessarily be taken to reflect the official opinion of any of the institutions
providing financial support. Responsibility for the content lies entirely with
IPEN.
POPs Recycling Contaminates Children’s Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants (November 2017) 15
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16
ANNEX 1: FLAME RETARDANTS IN
CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS
TABLE 1: RANGE OF CONCENTRATION (PPM) OF PBDEs IN RUBIK’S CUBES
PER COUNTRY
Purchased in Number of samples OctaBDE DecaBDE HBCD
Argentina 3 0 - 342 0 - 359 0 - 1586
Bangladesh 2 27 - 41 33 - 96 1 - 5
Belarus 2 3 - 5 134 - 153 NA
Brazil 2 1 - 5 1 - 6 0
Canada 4 9 - 280 20 - 297 1 - 20
China 6 3 - 58 2 - 36 0/NA
Czech Republic 6 0 - 75 2 - 96 0 - 42
Germany 2 1 3 - 4 0
Hungary 2 0 - 6 0 - 58 0/NA
India 6 0 - 336 0 - 516 0 - 78
Indonesia 5 0 - 52 0 - 63 0 - 541
Japan 4 2 - 17 1 - 17 0
Kenya 3 15 - 226 18 - 171 0 - 1280
Mexico 5 20 - 178 17 - 152 0 - 2
Nepal 3 17 - 58 19 - 234 0 - 1
Nigeria 14 18 - 1174 25 - 672 0 - 9
Philippines 4 2 - 108 5 - 293 0 - 13
Poland 4 0 - 51 0 - 79 0
Russia 3 1 - 362 0 - 217 2 - 691
Serbia 3 13 - 57 36 - 47 NA
Slovakia 1 26 98 0
South Africa 3 57 - 509 98 - 281 1 - 60
Sri Lanka 2 46 - 48 44 - 131 0 - 1
Sweden 1 0 0 0
Thailand 2 25 - 48 21 - 23 0 - 5
United Kingdom 3 36 - 210 10 - 400 0 - 5
NA = not analyzed
POPs Recycling Contaminates Children’s Toys with Toxic Flame Retardants (November 2017) 17
TABLE 2: CONCENTRATION (PPM) OF PBDEs AND HBCD IN CHILDREN’S
PRODUCTS FROM THE CZECH REPUBLIC AND THE NETHERLANDS
Item Purchased in OctaBDE DecaBDE HBCD
Toy - robot Czech Republic 0 1 0
Toy - finger skate-
board
Czech Republic 95 121 0
Toy - gun Czech Republic 82 117 375
Toy – car 1 Netherlands 89 145 21
Toy – car 2 Netherlands 4 8 0
Children painting
brush
Czech Republic 35 23 2
Children hockey stick Czech Republic 6 9 0
Thermo cup Czech Republic 3 6 0
Hair clip 1 Czech Republic 19 18 1
Hair clip 2 Czech Republic 18 18 5
Headdress 1 Czech Republic 9 33 0
Headdress 2 Czech Republic 102 78 19
Headdress 3 Czech Republic 107 195 24
Headdress 4 Slovakia 7 17 0
Comb 1 Czech Republic 6 5 0
Comb 2 Slovakia 0 0 0
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... The results of this study show that BFRs regulated under the Stockholm Convention can be found in consumer products from markets in Africa and the Arabic region, similar to what has previously been shown in other countries. The concentration of the BFRs cannot be explained away as unintentional trace contamination (UTC); (DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2011, Rani, Shim et al. 2014, Puype, Samsonek et al. 2015, DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2017. It therefore raises the question why both regulated and unregulated toxic flame retardants were found at such high levels in products which do not need to be treated with these chemicals? ...
... Over 370 consumer products made from recycled plastic (including toys, puzzles including Rubik's cubes, kitchen utensils, office supplies, hair accessories, carpet padding, and other products) from 38 countries around the world have been analyzed to date. Banned BFRs such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) or hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) have been found in analyzed toys from Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa in a previous IPEN and Arnika study (DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2017). However, no more complex analysis is available from Africa that focuses on toxic BFR content in products for groups more vulnerable to toxic chemicals such as children and women, similar to what was done for samples from European countries in 2018 . ...
... The kitchen utensil from Tunisia is the only exception among the analyzed samples, containing a substantial HBCD level. In comparison to former studies conducted by IPEN and Arnika (DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2017, the concentrations of HBCD in the recycled products seem to be decreasing. This trend could be a result of the global ban of HBCD in 2013 (Stockholm Convention 2013), and decreasing amounts of HBCD-treated products therefore entering the waste streams. ...
Book
Full-text available
Abstract Both the environment in Africa and the Arabic region and the human health of Africans and people from Arabic countries suffer from toxic chemicals and imported wastes more than in developed countries. Africa has become a destination of illegal toxic waste exports and, as this study shows, toxic chemicals are also present in toys, kitchen utensils, and other consumer products sold at African and Arabic region markets. Four hundred and thirty-four samples of toys and other consumer products made of black plastic, from eleven countries, were sampled for this study. Samples from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Syria, Tanzania, and Tunisia were analyzed by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and almost one fifth of all 434 samples were sent for special chemical analysis, based on the total content of bromine and antimony. Eighty-three samples including 22 toys, 27 hair accessories, 18 kitchen utensils, 11 office supplies, and 5 other products were analyzed for 11 common toxic BFRs, 16 congeners of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) standing for 3 commercial BDE mixtures, 3 isomers of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), listed as just HBCD, 6 novel BFRs (nBFRs), and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA). Out of the 83 analyzed products, only 22 had levels of PBDEs below 50 ppm, which means that 61 of them would be considered as POPs waste in Africa when applying the proposed protective concentration limits called the Low POPs Content Levels (LPCLs), defining when waste becomes hazardous waste under the Stockholm Convention. That means that 14% out of all the 434 samples collected in eleven African and Arabic countries for this study would be considered hazardous waste. The results of this study show that BFRs regulated under the Stockholm Convention can be found in consumer products from markets in Africa and the Arabic region, similar to what has previously been shown in other countries. The concentration of the BFRs cannot be explained away as unintentional trace contamination (UTC). It therefore raises the question why both regulated and unregulated toxic flame retardants were found at such high levels in products which do not need to be treated with these chemicals? The likely answer is that they are made of recycled plastic from plastic e-waste and end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) where BFRs were originally used. The present study has shown that children’s toys, hair accessories, office supplies and kitchen utensils found on the African and Arabic markets are affected by unregulated recycling of e-waste plastics that carry brominated flame retardants into new products. To stop this practice, stricter measures to control BFRs content in products and waste need to be set and enforced. There were also high levels of nBFRs and TBBPA in the analyzed products. These substances are yet unregulated, but also pose significant health risks in the same way as the PBDEs and HBCD already listed under the Stockholm Convention. Only a class-based approach can address the practice of so-called regrettable substitution, where old toxic BFRs are replaced with new, likely also toxic but still unregulated BFRs. These continue to circulate in the waste and recycling streams in the same way as their regulated counterparts. It is clear that their levels in consumer products require immediate action. The most effective way would be to list these chemicals as a class under the Stockholm Convention, since listing this big group of toxic chemicals one by one as individual substances would take too long to protect consumers’ health. Very high levels of brominated dioxins were measured in nine samples analyzed for this group of chemicals out of all samples in this study. The data showed that the sampled children’s products and consumer products obtained in African and Arabic countries contained levels of brominated dioxins on a scale normally found in a variety of hazardous wastes, including in waste incineration processes. Brominated dioxins were found in the consumer products included in this study at much higher levels than in previous studies. Stricter Low POPs Content Levels (LPCLs) should be applied to waste to stop the flow of e-waste and ELVs plastic into new products made of recycled plastic. Stricter LPCLs can also help to stop the import of POPs waste into African and Arabic countries. African and Arabic countries can then introduce stricter LPCLs and unintentional trace contamination (UTC) limits for BFRs in products into their national legislation and enforce it by using available separation techniques for border controls of incoming products and wastes. The demonstrated presence of brominated dioxins in products with relatively low levels of PBDEs underlines the need to apply stricter LPCLs.
... It is noteworthy that the analyzed products did not require fire retardance but still contained BFRs. Several previous studies [19,[22][23][24][29][30][31] have shown that toxic flame retardant chemicals were not intentionally added to the specific consumer products purchased in more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin and North America, but were passed on during the recycling of e-waste plastics into new products. This practice contradicts the PentaBDE and OctaBDE listing in Annex A of the Stockholm for global elimination [32] . ...
... This study aimed to determine whether children's toys, hair accessories, office supplies and kitchen utensils, sold on Chinese, Indonesian and Russian markets contained BFRs. This would indicate use of recycled, flame-retardant-containing plastics, similar to observations in previous studies [24,27,[29][30][31] . ...
... This suggests that materials from heterogeneous sources have been used to produce the recycled plastics that have likely been used to make these products. Table 4 shows that the average concentration of octaBDEs in the samples of children toys were at the same levels as in toys from 26 countries (including China, Indonesia and Russia) studied in 2017 [30] . However, decaBDE concentrations were higher in this study. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are man-made chemicals that are regularly added to consumer products to reduce fire-related injury and damage. Since the 1970s, bro¬minated flame retardants have been used in consumer products such as electronics, furniture and car upholstery, matrasses, household textiles and building insulation. This study shows that children’s toys, hair accessories, office supplies and kitchen utensils, available on the Chinese, Indonesian and Russian markets, contained brominated flame retardants (BFRs). The BFRs were likely originating from unregulated recycling of e-waste plastics. This practice contaminates and compromises a circular plastic economy, which means that production of plastics containing hazardous chemicals can¬not continue. Application of a class-based-approach that restricts use of all POP-BFRs, including regrettable substitutes that are currently used in products in the targeted countries without any regulation, monitoring or control would significantly contribute to an increased circularity. Also, existing contaminated materials must be separated from the waste stream and POP-chemicals destroyed or irreversibly transformed to stop further spreading of POP-BFRs. One crucial initial step towards a non-toxic circular economy is to set a strict, low POPs content limit for wastes. This limit should be set at a concentration that prevents recycling of POP-BFRs into new products and stops the export of POP-BFR contaminated wastes into developing and transition countries.
... The studies concluded that these products were not intentionally treated with BFRs, but they originated from the recycled materials. Our current study is a continuation of previous investigations by IPEN and Arnika that have warned against unregulated recycling of e-waste plastics, which carry brominated flame retardants into new products [20][21][22] . The current study is aimed at determining whether children's toys, hair accessories, office supplies, and kitchen utensils found on the African market are affected by the same unfortunate practice. ...
... utensil from Tunisia is the only exception among the analyzed samples, demonstrating a substantial HBCD level. In comparison with the former studies conducted by IPEN and Arnika until 2017 21,22 , the concentrations of HBCD in the recycled products seem to be decreasing. This trend can be a result of the global ban of HBCD in 2013 26 , and decreasing amounts of HBCD-treated products therefore entering the waste streams. ...
... The average concentrations of PBDEs in the samples of children's toys from Kenya remain at the same levels as in 2017 22 . However, previously detected levels of PBDE in products from Nigeria (up to 1,174 and 672 mg/kg of OctaBDE and DecaBDE respectively) 22 are significantly higher than the levels measured in the other African countries today. ...
Article
Full-text available
Two hundred and forty-four (244) samples of consumer products made of black plastic were obtained from markets and stores in seven African countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania, and Tunisia. The samples were expected to be made from recycled plastic. Children’s toys, hair accessories, kitchen utensils, and office supplies were of primary interest. The laboratory analysis of the 11 toys, 18 hair accessories, 10 kitchen utensils, 4 office supplies, and 4 other products from 7 countries found that 46 samples contained OctaBDE and DecaBDE at concentrations ranging from 3 to 151, and from 4 to 296 mg/kg respectively. The highest measured concentrations of PBDEs were found in office supplies, followed by hair accessories, children’s toys, other consumer products, and kitchen utensils. The present study has shown that children’s toys, hair accessories, office supplies, and kitchen utensils found on the African market are affected by unregulated recycling of e-waste plastics which carry brominated flame retardants into new products. To stop this practice, strict Low POPs content levels need to be set. Only a classbased approach can address the regrettable substitutes and likely toxic new BFRs that are currently used without any regulation and which will continue to circulate in the waste streams, just as their persistent counterparts.
... The results of this study show that BFRs regulated under the Stockholm Convention can be found in consumer products from African markets, similar to what has previously been shown in other countries. The concentration of the BFRs cannot be explained away as unintentional trace contamination (UTC); (DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2011, Rani, Shim et al. 2014, Puype, Samsonek et al. 2015, DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2017, Straková, DiGangi et al. 2018. It therefore raises the question why both regulated and unregulated toxic flame retardants were found at such high levels in products which do not need to be treated with these chemicals? ...
... Over 370 consumer products made from recycled plastic (including toys, puzzles including Rubik's cubes, kitchen utensils, office supplies, hair ac-cessories, carpet padding, and other products) from 38 countries around the world have been analyzed to date. Banned BFRs such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) or hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) have been found in analyzed toys from Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa in a previous IPEN and Arnika study (DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2017). However, no more complex analysis is available from Africa that focuses on toxic BFR content in products for groups more vulnerable to toxic chemicals such as children and women, similar to what was done for samples from European countries in 2018 (Straková, DiGangi et al. 2018). ...
... The kitchen utensil from Tunisia is the only exception among the analyzed samples, containing a substantial HBCD level. In comparison to former studies conducted by IPEN and Arnika (DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2017, Straková, DiGangi et al. 2018, the concentrations of HBCD in the recycled products seem to be decreasing. This trend could be a result of the global ban of HBCD in 2013 (Stockholm Convention 2013), and decreasing amounts of HBCD-treated products therefore entering the waste streams. ...
Book
Full-text available
Executive summary: Both the African environment and the human health of Africans suffer from toxic chemicals and imported wastes more than in developed countries. Africa has become the destination of illegal toxic waste exports and, as this study shows, toxic chemicals are also present in toys, kitchen utensils, and other consumer products sold at African markets. Two hundred and forty-four samples of toys and other consumer products made of black plastic, from seven countries, were sampled for this study. Samples from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania, and Tunisia were analyzed by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and one-fifth of all 244 samples were sent for special chemical analysis, based on the total content of bromine and antimony, because bromine and antimony content is an indication that black plastic may contain brominated flame retardants (BFRs); (Petreas, Gill et al. 2016). Forty-seven samples, including 11 toys, 18 hair accessories, 10 kitchen utensils, 4 office supplies, and 4 other products were analyzed for eleven common toxic BFRs, 16 congeners of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) standing for 3 commercial BDE mixtures, 3 isomers of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), listed as just HBCD, 6 novel BFRs (nBFRs), and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA). Only 8 of the 47 analyzed products contained levels of PBDEs below 50 ppm, which means that 39 products would be considered hazardous POPs waste in Africa when applying proposed, protective concentration limits defining when waste becomes hazardous waste under the Stockholm Convention, called the Low POPs Content Level (LPCL) . That means that 16% out of all the 244 samples collected in seven African countries for this study would be considered hazardous waste. The laboratory analysis showed that 46 samples contained OctaBDE and DecaBDE at concentrations ranging from 3 to 151 ppm, and from 4 to 296 ppm respectively. The highest measured concentrations of PBDEs were found in office supplies, followed by hair accessories, children’s toys, other consumer products, and kitchen utensils. The highest levels of HBCD were found in kitchen utensils followed by children’s toys. Looking at the total amount of PBDEs in the samples, the highest levels were measured in a cup for pens and pencils (office supply) from Tanzania, and a head dresser (hair accessory) from Morocco (332 and 315 ppm respectively). The highest level of HBCD (49 ppm) was found in a knife handle from Tunisia and the highest TBBPA concentration (243 ppm) was detected in a toy pistol bought in Ethiopia. A hair clip from Morocco contained the highest total level for the sum of novel BFRs (434 ppm). The same sample also contained high levels of PBDEs and TBBPA and had the highest level of total sum of BFRs analyzed in this study, at 897 ppm. The results of this study show that BFRs regulated under the Stockholm Convention can be found in consumer products from African markets, similar to what has previously been shown in other countries. The concentration of the BFRs cannot be explained away as unintentional trace contamination (UTC); (DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2011, Rani, Shim et al. 2014, Puype, Samsonek et al. 2015, DiGangi, Strakova et al. 2017, Straková, DiGangi et al. 2018). It therefore raises the question why both regulated and unregulated toxic flame retardants were found at such high levels in products which do not need to be treated with these chemicals? The likely answer is that they are made of recycled plastic from plastic e-waste and end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) where BFRs were originally used. This major problem of toxic BFRs contaminating toys and other consumer products arose when BFRs listed under the Stockholm Convention in 2009 were granted an exemption for recycling, promoted by developed countries such as the EU, Canada, Japan and others. E-waste and ELVs plastic containing high levels of toxic flame retardants should be banned from entering the recycling chain. The present study has shown that children’s toys, hair accessories, office supplies and kitchen utensils found on the African market are affected by unregulated recycling of e-waste plastics that carry brominated flame retardants into new products. To stop this practice, stricter measures to control BFRs content in products and waste need to be set and enforced. There were also high levels of nBFRs and TBBPA in the analyzed products. These substances are yet unregulated, but also pose significant health risks in the same way as the PBDEs and HBCD already listed under the Stockholm Convention. Only a class-based approach can address the practice of so-called regrettable substitution, where old toxic BFRs are replaced with new, likely also toxic but still unregulated BFRs. These continue to circulate in the waste and recycling streams in the same way as their regulated counterparts. It is clear that their levels in consumer products require immediate action. The most effective way would be to list these chemicals as a class under the Stockholm Convention, since listing this big group of toxic chemicals one by one as individual substances would take too long to protect consumers’ health. Stricter Low POPs Content Levels (LPCLs) should be applied to waste to stop the flow of e-waste and ELVs plastic into new products made of recycled plastic. Stricter LPCLs can also help to stop the import of POPs waste into African countries. African countries can then introduce stricter LPCLs and unintentional trace contamination (UTC) limits for BFRs in products into their national legislation and enforce it by using available separation techniques for border controls of incoming products and wastes.
... However, they were widely used in products with long usage times, such as furniture and upholstery in homes and vehicles and building materials. Moreover, recycling exemptions enable the contamination of new products [5]. Therefore, they may pose a risk to human health in the future [6]. ...
... (1) Food 0.24 (2) Dust (3) Mother's milk (4) All answers are correct (5) No answer is correct 2. Exposure to BFRs is related to (circle one or more of the following) ...
... (1) Reproductive problems in adults 0.14 (2) Neurological problems in adults (3) Psychomotor and cognitive impairment in children (4) All answers are correct (5) No answer is correct 3. Please circle the correct statement (1) No BFRs have been forbidden in any country À0.52 (2) In some countries, certain BFRs have been forbidden and replaced by BFRs with known levels of toxicity (3) In some countries, certain BFRs have been forbidden and replaced by BFRs with unknown levels of toxicity 4. Please circle the correct statement (1) BFRs pass through the placenta and their concentration in umbilical serum is significantly higher than that in the mother's serum 0.44 ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose This study explored Croatian nursing students' knowledge and attitudes regarding brominated flame retardants (BFRs) as indicators of their predisposition to educate future patients. The purpose of the study was to identify knowledge gaps and barriers and to propose possible remedies. Design/methodology/approach The cross-sectional survey was conducted on a convenience sample of 114 nursing students at undergraduate and graduate levels from three Croatian universities during the winter semester in the academic year 2018–2019. Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were performed using STATISTICA 13 software. Findings Slightly over half of the students (58.49%) were knowledgeable of BFR health effects and 45.28% showed knowledge about its presence in the environment. Only 33.02% of students identified prenatal exposure effects and 24.53% answered correctly about legislative actions. Participants expressed modest interest in the topic ( M = 3.15, SD = 1.35). Although informing the public on the health consequences of BFRs was important to them ( M = 4.18, SD = 1.03), they did not perceive health-care providers as primarily responsible for communicating that information. Originality/value There is a need to enhance related content in the curriculum to improve students' knowledge. Raising students' awareness regarding the role of nurses in clinical and policy arenas is proposed to facilitate active participation in improving environmental health.
... Budin et al. [44] studied the presence of brominated dioxins and furans (PBDD/Fs) in the plastic parts of some toys available on the market, determining high levels of PBDD/Fs and related TEQ levels, concluding that the sampled toys were most likely made with recycled plastics containing flame retardants. A recent study performed laboratory analysis of 95 Rubik′s cubes and 16 additional samples from 26 countries in various regions, and found that 90% of the samples contained octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE) in concentrations ranging from 1 to 1174 ppm [55]. ...
... Leslie et al. [53] pointed out the importance of the presence of BFRs in plastic materials destined for recycling markets. These POPs have been found in various plastic materials, including items used for the automotive and electronic industries [53], children's toys [44,55,56] and personal care products [70]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The presence of different pollutants in recycled plastics is reviewed in this article. The desirable circular economy of plastics should be linked to the availability of clean recycled plastics with a non-significant and small to nil amount of substances of concern. Different researchers found polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs), pesticides, dioxins and furans (PCDD/Fs and PBDD/Fs) in plastic recyclates. This represents an added difficulty to the effective recycling process of plastics that reduces the demand for energy and materials, in addition to posing a great environmental danger since they represent a vector of accumulation of the contaminants that will finally appear in the most unexpected products. Life Cycle Analysis of the plastic wastes recycling process indicates a great saving of energy, water and CO2 emissions.
... The studies concluded that these products were not intentionally treated with BFRs, but the contamination originated from recycled materials used to make the product. This study is a continuation of previous investigations by IPEN and Arnika that have warned against unregulated recycling of e-waste plastics, which carry brominated flame retardants into new products [14][15][16] . The current study is aimed at determining whether children's toys, hair accessories, office supplies, and kitchen utensils found on the Czech and Serbian markets are still affected by the same unfortunate practice. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study is a continuation of previous investigations by IPEN and Arnika that have warned against unregulated recycling of e-waste plastics, which carry brominated flame retardants into new products. The current study is aimed at determining whether children’s toys, hair accessories, office supplies, and kitchen utensils found on the Czech and Serbian markets are still affected by the same unfortunate practice. There were similar studies conducted in both countries in the years 2015 – 2018, so this new research is also opportunity to look at potential trends in levels of BFRs in consumer products made of recycled black plastic. It is also an opportunity to generate the first data about levels of TBBPA in the studied products. Sixty (60) and twenty-five (25) samples of consumer products made of black plastic were obtained in two European countries, Czechia and Serbia respectively in 2020. The present study has shown that children’s toys, kitchen utensils and other consumer products found on the Czech and Serbian markets are affected by unregulated recycling of e-waste plastics which carry BFRs into new products. Levels of PBDEs, HBCD and TBBPA decreased in studied products in comparison with previous years while the concentration of novel BFRs increased. Observed levels of toxic BFRs are still too high and evidence of their influence on human health shows the need for stricter regulation, not only of already banned BFRs (PBDEs and HBCD), but also of their regrettable substitutes (TBBPA and novel BFRs). To stop the practice of using electronic and automotive waste plastic for production of recycled plastic and making consumer products out of it, strict Low POPs Content Levels need to be set. Without further regulation of BFRs as a class it is likely that toxic new BFRs that are currently used without any regulation will continue to circulate in the waste streams, just as their persistent counterparts. It is a challenge for the rising circular economy.
... A problem arising with the potential presence of PBDD/Fs in plastic is linked to the fact that nowadays, a wide range of consumer products including toys are manufactured from recycled plastics instead of de novo synthesis. For instance, recycled black plastic often indicates plastic originating from e-waste, which is a type of plastics known to contain significant levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and related flame-retardants (Digangi et al., 2017;Drage et al., 2018;Kuang et al., 2018;Samsonek and Puype, 2013;Strakova and Petrlik, 2017). This suggests that consumer products manufactured using black recycled plastic, such as plastic toys, may represent another unsuspected route of exposure to PBDD/Fs via exposure to dust generated by the object or, particularly for young children, via normal mouthing behavior. ...
Article
Full-text available
Brominated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PBDD/Fs) are increasingly reported at significant levels in various matrices, including consumer goods that are manufactured from plastics containing certain brominated flame retardants. PBDD/Fs are known ligands for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) but are not yet considered in the hazard assessment of dioxin mixtures. The aim of the present study was to determine if PBDD/Fs levels present in plastic constituents of toys could pose a threat to children's health. PBDD/Fs, unlike their chlorinated counterparts (PCDD/Fs), have not been officially assigned toxic equivalence factors (TEFs) by the WHO therefore, we determined their relative potency towards AhR activation in both human and rodent cell-based DR CALUX® bioassays. This allowed us to compare GC-HRMS PBDD/F congener levels, converted to total Toxic Equivalents (TEQ) by using the PCDD/F TEFs, to CALUX Bioanalytical Equivalents (BEQ) levels present in contaminated plastic constituents from children's toys. Finally, an estimate was made of the daily ingestion of TEQs from PBDD/Fs-contaminated plastic toys by child mouthing habits. It is observed that the daily ingestion of PBDD/Fs from contaminated plastic toys may significantly contribute to the total dioxin daily intake of young children.
... Due to evidence of their adverse health effects, brominated flame retardants (BFRs) such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) are subject to global bans and restrictions. As a consequence, reports of the presence of BFRs in plastic children's toys as a result of the use of recycled polymers containing such chemicals are of concern (Chen et al., 2009;Ionas et al., 2014;DiGangi et al., 2017;Guzzonato et al., 2017;Puype et al., 2019;Straková and Petrlík, 2017). Children are particularly vulnerable to the adverse health effects of contaminants because of their behavioural tendencies (e.g., mouthing of objects and hand to mouth activities) that differ from adults and result in higher levels of exposure (Landrigan and Goldman, 2011). ...
Article
We report concentrations of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in 23 plastic samples from 20 new and second-hand children's toys sourced from the UK that had been previously shown to be Br-positive by XRF. The results reinforce existing evidence that the recycling of BFR-treated electronic plastics has led to the unintentional BFR contamination of articles not required to be flame-retarded. The principal BFRs detected were PBDEs (and in particular BDE-209), HBCDD and TBBP-A. PBDEs were detected in all samples with a maximum concentration of BDE-209 of 2500 mg/kg, and while TBBP-A was detected in 11 samples with a maximum concentration of 3100 mg/kg. HBCDD was detected in 14 cases and was present in four toys at concentrations (139–840 mg/kg) that would currently prevent their sale on the EU market. While estimated exposures to PBDEs via accidental ingestion of toy plastic fell well below USEPA reference doses, a child weighing 8.67 kg and ingesting 8 mg/day of a toy (the default assumption of the European Commission's Toy Safety Directive for scraped-off toy material) contaminated at our arithmetic mean concentration would be exposed to 0.2 ng/kg bw/day BDE-99. This compares closely to a health-based limit value (HBLV) proposed in The Netherlands of 0.23–0.30 ng/kg bw/day BDE-99. Of greater concern, the same child playing with a toy contaminated at the maximum concentration in this study would be exposed to 1.4 ng/kg bw/day BDE-99, thereby exceeding the HBLV. This paper is the first to consider BFR exposure via incidental ingestion of plastic from both contemporary and historical toys, revealing it to be considerable and for some children their most significant pathway of exposure.
Article
Full-text available
This study investigates the pollution of Markman stormwater runoff, which is a tributary to Swartkops River Estuary. Solid-phase and ultrasonic extraction methods were utilized in the extraction of water and sediment samples, respectively. The pH of the sampling sites was above the EU guideline. The ranges of concentration of \(\Sigma_{6}\)PBDE obtained in water and sediment samples for all the seasons were 58.47–1357 ng/L and 175–408 ng/g, respectively. Results also showed that BDE-66 was the dominant congener, specifically in the industrial zone, where its concentrations ranged from 2 to 407 ng/g in sediment. Consequently, the high concentration of BDE- 66 in the sediment of stormwater calls for concern. Penta-BDE suggests potential moderate eco-toxicological risk, as evident in the calculated risk assessment. The result showed possible photodegradation along the contaminant's travel time, as only 7% of the PBDE was detected at the point of entry into the Swartkops River Estuary. Markman stormwater may be contributing heavily to the pollution load of Swartkops River, as evident in the alarming concentrations of PBDEs obtained. The industries at this zone should eliminate the contaminants before discharging their effluents into the canal.
Article
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Presented at Dioxin Conference, published in Organohalogen Compounds, 2011
Article
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In order to confirm the possibility that recycled fractions from the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) stream were illegally entering the European market in black polymeric food-contact articles (FCAs), bromine quantification, brominated flame retardant (BFR) identification combined with WEEE-relevant elemental analysis and polymer impurity analysis were performed. From the 10 selected FCAs, seven samples contained a bromine level ranging from 57 to 5975 mg kg− 1, which is lower than expected to achieve flame retardancy. The BFRs that were present were tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), decabromodiphenylether (decaBDE), decabromodiphenylethane (DBDPE) and 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE). Typical elements used in electronic equipment and present in WEEE were detected either at trace level or at elevated concentrations. In all cases when bromine was detected at higher concentrations, concurrently antimony was also detected, which confirms the synergetic use of antimony in combination with BFRs. This study describes also the measurement of rare earth elements where combinations of cerium, dysprosium, lanthanum, neodymium, praseodymium and yttrium were detected in four of the seven BFR-positive samples. Additionally, polymer purity was investigated where in all cases foreign polymer fractions were detected. Despite the fact that this study was carried out on a very small amount of samples, there is a significant likelihood that WEEE has been used for the production of FCAs.
Article
Most of the materials used in consumer goods contain a number of additives which are meant to improve key properties like plasticity or flame resistance. At the end-of-life of the product, many polymeric materials are recycled and the additives they contain, such as flame retardants (FRs) and plasticizers, are transferred to the newly manufactured goods. We have investigated the occurrence and profiles of FRs, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and phosphate FR (PFRs) and of plasticisers, such as phthalate esters, in 106 toys samples. Low levels and detection frequencies of components of the technical Penta-BDE and Deca-BDE mixtures were found, with BDE 209 being the dominant PBDE in all samples (maximum value was 0.14mg/g or 0.014%). The levels of PFRs and phthalates were up to 10,000 times higher than those of the PBDEs, with triphenyl phosphate and diethylhexyl phthalate being the major representatives of these classes. Maximum values were 1.3 and 6.9%, respectively. The detection frequencies were up to 50% for PFRs and 98% for phthalates. All but one of the toys produced after the REACH regulation went into force complied with its provisions. The samples were grouped according to relevant selection criteria to assess the risk for children of different age groups. Using models in the literature, exposure to these chemicals was tentatively assessed. It is clear that at the levels found in the investigated toys, these additives do not contribute to the intended characteristics of the materials, but in some cases may pose a health hazard to the children. Most likely, recycled materials are an important source of these additives in toys and therefore, their (re)use in products for children should be subject to stricter restrictions.
Article
In order to screen for the presence of a recycled polymer waste stream from waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE), a market survey was conducted on black plastic food-contact articles (FCA). An analytical method was applied combining X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) with thermal desorption gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (thermal desorption GC-MS). Firstly, XRF spectrometry was applied to distinguish bromine-positive samples. Secondly, bromine-positive samples were submitted for identification by thermal desorption GC-MS. Generally, the bromine-positive samples contained mainly technical decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE). Newer types of BFRs such as tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), tetrabromobisphenol A bis(2,3-dibromopropyl), ether (TBBPA-BDBPE) and decabromodiphenylethane (DBDPE), replacing the polybrominated diphenyleters (PBDEs) and polybrominated diphenyls (PBBs), were also identified. In none of the tested samples were PBBs or hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) found. Polymer identification was carried out using Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy measurement (FTIR) on all samples. The results indicate that polypropylene-polyethylene copolymers (PP-PE) and mainly styrene-based food-contact materials, such as acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) have the highest risk of containing BFRs.
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Brominated flame retardants (BFRs), including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), 1,2-bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE), decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE), and polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) were found in children’s toys purchased from South China. The median BFR concentrations in the hard plastic toys were 53 000, 5540 ng/g, 101.1 ng/g, and 27.9 ng/g, for total PBDEs, DBDPE, BTBPE, and PBBs, respectively, which were notably higher than values in other toys. The PBDE concentrations were below the threshold limit (1000 ppm) required by the European Commission’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives in all of the toys, except for one hard plastic toy with a total PBDE concentration of 5 344 000 ng/g. The BFR profiles in the toys were consistent with the patterns of their current production and consumption in China, where PBDEs, specifically decaBDE product, were the dominant BFR, followed by the emerging DBDPE. The relatively high concentrations of octa- and nonaBDEs in the foam toys and the results of principal component analysis (PCA) may suggest the decomposition of highly brominated BDEs during the manufacturing processes of the toys. Daily total PBDE exposures associated with toys via inhalation, mouthing, dermal contact, and oral ingestion ranged from 82.6 to 8992 pg/kg bw-day for children of 3 months to 14 years of age. Higher exposures, predominantly contributed through the mouthing pathway, were observed for infants and toddlers than for the other subgroups. In most cases, children’s BFR exposure via the toys likely accounts for a small proportion of their daily BFR exposure, and the hazard quotients for noncancer risk evaluation were far below 1. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study to examine the concentrations of BFRs in toys, and the potential exposures to children.
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Recent studies show that PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) air concentrations remain surprisingly high in parts of Africa and Asia. These are regions where PCBs were never extensively used, but which are implicated as recipients of obsolete products and wastes containing PCBs and other industrial organic contaminants, such as halogenated flame retardants (HFRs). We hypothesize that there may be different trends in emissions across the globe, whereby emissions of some industrial organic contaminants may be decreasing faster in former use regions (due to emission reductions combined with uncontrolled export), at the expense of regions receiving these substances as obsolete products and wastes. We conclude that the potential for detrimental effects on the environment and human health due to long-range transport by air, water, or wastes should be of equal concern when managing and regulating industrial organic contaminants. This calls for a better integration of life-cycle approaches in the management and regulation of industrial organic contaminants in order to protect environmental and human health on a global scale. Yet, little remains known about the amounts of industrial organic contaminants exported outside former use regions as different types of wastes because of the often illicit nature of these operations.
Separation of Hazardous Brominated Plastics from Waste Plastics by Froth Flotation after Surface Modification with Mild Heat-Treatment
  • N Truc
  • C Lee
  • S Mallampati
  • B Lee
Truc N, Lee C, Mallampati S. and Lee B. (2015). "Separation of Hazardous Brominated Plastics from Waste Plastics by Froth Flotation after Surface Modification with Mild Heat-Treatment." World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology. International Journal of Environmental and Ecological Engineering 2(12): 1378-1381.