New Study Demonstrates Safe Use of Brominated Polymeric Flame Retardant

BSEF Press Statement – 25 April 2019

A new paper by Koch et al. entitled “Degradation of brominated polymeric flame retardants and effects of generated decomposition products”[1] has recently been published in the journal Chemosphere. The same authors published earlier this year two papers on the same subject[2][3]. This paper provides a summary of the state on knowledge on the Polymeric FR and the author’s previous work on the substance.

The paper’s conclusion confirms the inherently low environmental and human health risk from the  substance: Considering that “Polymeric FR” is currently only applied in thermal building insulation, the risk for degradation of this BFR during everyday usage (thus excluding for instance fire) seems comparably low as long as the product is adequately handled at its end-of-life. In this regard and based on the extremely limited amount of studies currently available, it appears that “Polymeric FR” is an important step towards environmentally safer FRs.”

The authors also acknowledge that “Different to previous brominated flame retardants, this new group is based on a polymeric structure that could indeed lead to a better environmental profile”.

As noted in their previous papers, the authors find that

Detected degradation products cause almost no acute toxicity, whereas chronic toxicity might be relevant. Nevertheless, as long as polymeric flame retardants are only used in building insulation, the actual risk seems to be rather limited.”

Commenting on the paper, Dr Kevin Bradley of BSEF noted that “Polymeric flame retardants represent an important development in the field of fire safety of materials and products in building isolation since they offer environmentally safer performance”.


BSEF, its member companies and the polymeric value chain acknowledge the need to consider end of life aspects for polystyrene foams containing Polymeric FR. Our value chain remains fully committed to seeking appropriate technology solutions towards meeting Circular Economy principles.

About BSEF

BSEF is the international bromine producers organisation. Since 1997, the organisation has been working to foster knowledge on the uses and benefits of bromine-based solutions. BSEF strongly believe in science and innovation. Through investments in research and development BSEF members create robust bromine-based technologies meeting the needs of society. The members of BSEF are Albemarle Corporation, ICL Industrial Products, Lanxess and Tosoh Corporation.

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[1] Christoph Koch, Bernd Sures, Degradation of brominated polymeric flame retardants and effects of generated decomposition products, Chemosphere (2019), doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.04.052

[2] Christoph Koch et al., Degradation of the Polymeric Brominated Flame Retardant “Polymeric FR” by Heat and UV Exposure; Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019,  53, 3, 1453-1462

[3] Christoph Koch, Bernd Sures; Ecotoxicological characterization of possible degradation products of the polymeric flame retardant “Polymeric FR” using algae and Daphnia OECD tests; Science of the Total Environment 656 (2019) 101–107