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Hexabromocyclododecane

HBCD, Saytex BC-70HS

SPRI Emission Reporting Threshold
10.0 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Air
0.1 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Water
0.1 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Waste Water
Disclaimer
This sheet is a generic summary, designed to give the reader a basic level of background information about the substance in question. Great care has been taken to represent as effectively and correctly as possible the broad range of (not necessarily consistent) information which is available from a variety of sources. The reader must accept therefore that this sheet has no legal status and cannot be relied upon in any legal proceedings. SEPA disclaims any responsibility or liability whatsoever for errors and omissions in this sheet.
What is it?
Under normal conditions, Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) is a cream coloured solid or powder. HBCD is non-flammable and non-toxic. It melts at around 175 degrees celsius and when heated to temperatures greater than 230 degrees celsius, HBCD breaks down. HBCD does not dissolve in water or some alcohols, but will dissolve in most other organic (carbon-containing) solvents.
What is it used for?
The main use of HBCD is as a flame retardent. As such, it is mainly added to plastics and polystyrene foam, insulating materials for buildings, coatings for textiles and electrical insulation materials.
Where does it come from?
Releases of HBCD may occur during its manufacture and use in a variety of products. Releases occuring after disposal of these products in landfills or by incineration are also thought to be significant, although this could reduce in the future as more of these products are more appropriately disposed of or recycled. There are not thought to be any natural sources of HBCDs to the environment.
How might it affect the environment?
HBCD is known to be very toxic to aquatic organisms and there is also thought to be a risk that it will accumulate in these species. HBCD does not break down easily in aerated waters or soils, so may persist for a considerable time. In light of its potential to persist and bioaccumulate, HBCD is of global as well as local environmental concern.
How might exposure to it affect human health?
Hexabromocyclododecane can enter the body either by inhalation of air containing hexabromocyclododecane, accidental ingestion of hexabromocyclododecane, or by dermal contact with hexabromocyclododecane. Inhalation of hexabromocyclododecane can cause irritation of the respiratory tract. Ingestion of hexabromocyclododecane may result in gastrointestinal irritation. Dermal contact with hexabromocyclododecane can cause skin irritation. The full effect of hexabromocyclododecane on human health has not been determined. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has not designated hexabromocyclododecane in terms of its carcinogenicity. However, exposure to hexabromocyclododecane at normal background levels is unlikely to have any adverse effect on human health.
What steps are being taken to limit the potential impacts?
Releases of HBCD are regulated through the UK Pollution, Prevention and Control (PPC) Regulations. HBCD is listed as a priority substance for risk assessment under EC law (793/93/EEC) and hence will be subject to related risk reduction strategies. A final report on the assessments made is expected by 2005. Internationally, it is likely that HBCD will be included in the future under the OSPAR Convention which protects the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic Ocean, the UNECE POPs protocol and the UNEP POPs Convention.