BANGOR, ME -- The state of Maine has enacted legislation that permits continued use of the highly-effective flame retardant known as Deca in the utility, automobile and semiconductor industries, each of which is vital to the state’s economy.
“While we are disappointed that the legislature is limiting the use of Deca in some home furnishing materials and consumer electronics, both of which present fire risks, it is important to note that numerous key uses will be exempted by the state of Maine,” said Dr. Michael Spiegelstein, chairman of the Bromine Science and Environmental Forum, an advocacy group for the bromine chemical industry.
Under the bill, the use of Deca in mattresses, mattress pads and textiles used in residential furniture would be prohibited beginning in 2008, and in the casings of televisions and computers beginning in 2010. Deca is not used in residential mattresses or furniture, and has never been used widely in computers, further limiting the practical impact of the prohibition.
According to BSEF, a 10-year European Union risk assessment found Deca safe for use and exempted it from further regulation. Spiegelstein said no other flame retardant has been as extensively studied and that properly evaluating and approving alternative flame retardants is a challenging process.
“The use of safe and effective flame retardants saves many lives every year by preventing or slowing down fires,” Spiegelstein said. “The real challenge for Maine is to conduct the type of thorough analysis necessary to find a safer substitute for Deca, which is not as simple as some people think – any substance used as an alternative to Deca carries its own risks. "