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25 August 2006
Ministry of Sustainable Development
Ban stops use of brominated flame retardant in Sweden
The Government decided today to ban the use of the brominated flame retardant decaBDE. The ban applies to decaBDE in new products such as textiles, upholstery and cables.
“Today, decaBDE is found in both humans and birds of prey. Some studies indicate that this substance can disturb brain development and that it can be broken down into other, more dangerous substances. This is why we have chosen to go ahead of the EU and propose a national ban”, says Minister for the Environment Lena
This substance is the subject of a risk assessment at EU level and the conclusion there is that further studies must be conducted to reduce the considerable uncertainties found in the assessment. A study on mice conducted in Sweden, in which disturbances in the
development of the brain have been found, is one of the studies that many people believe should be repeated. The Union´s own scientific committee, however, is of the opinion that we should not wait for further studies to be conducted before taking risk reduction measures against decaBDE.
“It is very positive that Sweden is taking the lead and introducing a national ban. There is already sufficient evidence to indicate that decaBDE is harmful to health and the environment, so it´s high time that we take action”, says Kjell-Erik Karlsson of the Left Party.
Certain groups of goods will be exempted from the ban, such as vehicles and electrical and electronic equipment, since these are already regulated in the EU. Today, certain other brominated flame retardants are already banned in the EU.
In October 2005, the Commission decided on an exemption for, in principle, all use of decaBDE in what is termed the RoHS Directive (restricting the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment), motivating this decision by stating that it has not been shown to entail any risk to the consumer. The RoHS Directive bans the use of such substances as mercury and certain brominated flame retardants in new electrical and electronic equipment. Several member states entered reservations
against the decision and stated that the Commission was not qualified to take such a decision. The European Parliament and Denmark have also decided to sue the Commission at the European Court of Justice so as to get the decision annulled. Sweden will intervene in this case on the side of the Parliament and Denmark.
“In our opinion, the Commission´s decision totally lacks legal basis. It was on my initiative that the Parliament went to the Court,” says Carl Schlyter, the Green MEP. “If scientific evidence and common sense are allowed to prevail, the European Parliament and Denmark, with Swedish assistance, will win in the Court, and the decision on these exemptions will be revoked. This will provide even stronger protection for people and the environment.”
The proposed national ban will enter into force on 1 January 2007. It is based on an agreement between the Government, the Green Party and the Left Party.
Press secretary to Lena Sommestad
work +46 8 405 24 14
cell +46 70 365 24 14
email to Lena Berglund
+46 8 405 39 71