Polymers are synthetic organic materials having a high carbon and hydrogen content, which make them readily combustible. Polymers have many indoor uses and their flammability makes them a fire hazard. Therefore, flame retardants (FRs) are incorporated into these materials as a safety measure. Brominated flame retardants (BFRs), which accounted for about 21% of the total world market of FRs, have several unintended negative effects on the environment and human health. Hence, there is growing interest in finding appropriate alternative halogen-free flame retardants (HFFRs). Many of these HFFRs are marketed already, although their environ- mental behavior and toxicological properties are often only known to a limited extent, and their potential impact on the environment cannot yet be properly assessed. Therefore, we undertook this review to make an inventory of the available data that exists (up to September 2011) on the physical-chemical properties, pro- duction volumes, persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity (PBT) of a selection of HFFRs that are potential replacements for BFRs in polymers. Large data gaps were identified for the physical-chemical and the PBT properties of the reviewed HFFRs. Because these HFFRs are currently on the market, there is an urgent need to fill these data gaps. Enhanced transparency of methodology and data are needed to reevaluate certain test results that appear contradictory, and, if this does not provide new insights, further research should be performed. TPP has been studied quite extensively and it is clearly persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. So far, RDP and BDP have demonstrated low to high ecotoxicity and persistence. The compounds ATH and ZB exerted high toxicity to some species and ALPI appeared to be persistent and has low to moderate reported ecotoxicity. DOPO and MPP may be persistent, but this view is based merely on one or two studies, clearly indicating a lack of information. Many degradation studies have been performed on PER and show low persistence, with a few exceptions. Additionally, there is too l ittle information on the bioaccumulation potential of PER. APP mostly has low PBT properties; however, moderate ecotoxicity was reported in two studies. Mg(OH)₂, ZHS, and ZS do not show such remarkably high bioaccumulation or toxicity, but large data gaps exist for these compounds also. Nevertheless, we consider the latter compounds to be the most promising among alternative HFFRs. To assess whether the presently reviewed HFFRs are truly suitable alternatives, each compound should be examined individually by comparing its PBT values with those of the relevant halogenated flame retardant. Until more data are available, it remains impossible to accurately evaluate the risk of each of these compounds, including the ones that are already extensively marketed.
New York: Springer-Verlag New York, 2013. Vol. 222, 1-71 p.