What is it? Flame retardants are man-made organic compounds which can be added to finished products. The function of these substances is to inhibit, suppress or delay the production of flames. Hence, it helps to inhibit the spread of fire.
Flame retardants can be incorporated or physical bounded with materials. There are two common types of restricted flame retardants.
Halogenated flame retardants refer to organic compounds that the carbon is bonded with halogens e.g. bromine and chlorine. For example, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs), polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDEs) e.g. pentaBDE, octaBDE, decaBDE.
Organophosphorus compounds refer to organic compounds containing phosphorus such as tris (2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate (TRIS), Bis (2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate, tris(1-aziridinyl)-phosphate oxide (TEPA).
Potential health hazard: Flame retardants are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic to both humans and the environment and are suspected of causing neurobehavioral disorders and endocrine disruption. Some of the flame retardants are used in upholstery furniture. These substances are not chemically bound to the materials e.g. foam. These can be found in household dust and exposed to the human via inhalation. In particular, children are more vulnerable to the harmful effect of these toxic chemicals.
Commonly found in: Flame retardants can be used in plastics, textiles in clothing and upholstered furniture and electrical/electronic appliances. Some brominated flame retardants such as HBCDD, can be used in thermal insulation in the building.