Environmental impacts and use of brominated flame retardants in electrical and electronic equipment
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Management of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) or e-waste is becoming a major issue as around 20 to 50 million tonnes such waste is generated worldwide and increasing at a higher rate other solid waste streams. Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) contains over 1000 materials of which brominated flame retardants (BFRs) such as polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been the target of the regulators forcing manufacturers to adopt halogen free flame retardants. As far as these alternatives are concerned key consideration should be its performance during the whole life cycle through design, use and end-of-life management. Global halogen free flame retardant movement has reached a point of no return. The most important issue as far as the environment is concerned, for which the transformation to halogen free retardants was initially targeted, is to make sure that life span of the EEE using the alternatives to BFRs is not shortened thereby resulting in unforeseen increase in e-waste to deal with. The aim of this paper is to investigate the environmental issues and current developments related to the use of BFRs in EEE manufacture. It describes the sources, toxicity and human exposure of BFRs, EOL management such as recycling and thermal treatments, exposure of BFRs from e-waste processing facilities and the environment around them and examines the developments and feasibility of the alternatives to BFR in EEE manufacture.
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Copyright 2008 Springer-Verlag. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com