What are Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs)?
- These are chemicals added to plastic parts of electronic gadgets to make them less flammable.
- Many of these bromine-based chemicals are highly toxic.
- As a result, they have been banned in many countries globally.
- Rapidly increasing levels of BFRs have been found in sediments, marine animals and humans. This indicates significant potential for damage to ecology and human health.
- A report ‘WEEE Plastic and Brominated Flame Retardants’ by a not-for profit environmental organization has revealed that plastic laden with harmful flame retardants might be contaminating the entire recycled plastic stream.
- WEEE- Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (plastic from e-waste)
- Almost 300 tonnes of such plastic are added to the recycling stream everyday in India.
This gets mixed with other plastic and then reaches us in the form of new products.
- The report found that most of the plastic, containing flame retardants, is being mixed with ‘clean’ plastic during recycling process, especially in the informal sector with no safety and health precautions.
- The dust and releases during the recycling processes may have high concentrations of BFRs.
- As BFR is loosely bound with plastic, it gets released during usage.
- The products are sold without any warning or labels. So there is always a danger of inhaling or ingesting BFRs, when anyone comes in contact with products made up of contaminated plastic.
- Prolonged exposure to BFRs could lead to an array of health ailments, including thyroid hormone disruption, memory impairment, behavioral changes, delayed puberty onset, decreased sperm count and cancer in some cases.