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Definition Key to the Chemical ‘Alphabet Soup’ of Flame Retardants

A short list of definitions and explanations on some flame retardants

BTBPE: 1,2-Bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane
This chemical is used as a substitute for octaBDE. It is one of the Firemaster 680 compounds and is used as an additive flame retardant. This chemical has been found in the air and environment. Human exposure probably occurs through dust.  Production information for this chemical is confidential so it is impossible for consumer advocates to gauge the potential exposure risks.

DBDPE: Decabromodiphenyl ethane
This chemical is used as a substitute for decaBDE, but is structurally similar to decaBDE, which has been withdrawn from commerce based on health and safety concerns.  DBDPE is used in plastics and textiles. It has been found in the environment and aquatic food web and is toxic to aquatic species. It is found in household dust. Its effects in humans and the environment need to be further investigated.

DBHC-TCTD: 5,6-Dibromo-1,10,11,12,13,13-hexachloro-11-tricyclo[,9] tridecene
This chemical is used as a substitute for HBCD. It is used in polystyrene as a flame retardant and found in various concentrations in the environment, inside homes, and in the bodies of humans and wildlife. It is structurally similar to toxic organochlorines —dieldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, endrin and endosulfan.

decaBDE: decabromodiphenyl ether
This chemical has been used in some electronics products and textiles. Possible health effects involve developmental neurotoxicity. There has been a phase out of the chemical due to health concerns in parts of Europe and some US states. There is a full phase out of US manufacture planned for 2013.

Firemaster 550 (FM550)
This is a flame retardant used in polyurethane foam as a substitute for penta-BDE. This chemical contains a mixture of flame retardants, including TBB and TBPH. It has been found in dust and sewage sludge.

Firemaster 600
This is a flame retardant for polyurethane foam, produced by Chemtura. It may be replacing Firemaster 550. In the Baby Products Study, Firemaster 600 was found in a number of portable crib mattresses, car seats, and changing table pads.

HBCD: hexabromocyclododecane
This is a brominated flame retardant used in extruded and expanded polystyrene foam. Due to toxicity concerns it is being considered for a possible global ban through the Stockholm Convention. It is listed as a “chemical of very high concern” in the European Union.

octaBDE: octabromodiphenyl ether
This is a brominated flame retardant used alongside penta-BDE. It has been banned in 12 US states and is no longer manufactured in the US. It has also been banned by the European Union and global Stockholm Convention.

pentaBDE: pentabromodiphenqyl ether
This is a brominated flame retardant that was commonly used in polyurethane foam manufactured before 2006.  Its industrial production was stopped in the US by 2005 and it have has been eliminated elsewhere in 172 countries under the Stockholm Convention and in the European Union. Twelve US states formally restrict the chemical as well. Possible health effects in humans involve the thyroid dysfunction and impaired neurobehavioral development

TBB: 2-Ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate
This chemical is one of the compounds in Firemaster 550 that is used as a substitute for pentaDBE. 

TBPH: Bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate
This chemical is one of the compounds in Firemaster 550 that is used as a substitute for pentaDBE. It has been used in neoprene and vinyl (PVC).

TBECH: 1,2-Dibromo-4-(1,2-dibromoethyl) cyclohexane
This chemical is used as a substitute for HBCD. It is associated with effects in humans including reproductive and developmental effects. It is a bioaccumulating substance and is very persistent.

TCEP:  Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate
This chlorinated flame retardant is commonly used in furniture foam, vinyl (PVC), electronics (including televisions computers), adhesives, upholstery and various insulations building materials. TCEP is no longer produced in Europe and the California EPA lists it as a cancer-causing agent.

TCPP: Tris 1-chloro-2-propyl phosphate
This flame retardant is often used in flexible polyurethane foams in furniture and upholstery. It is also found in building insulation building materials. TCPP is considered non-volatile. According to the National Toxicology Program compounds similar in structure to TCPP are carcinogenic.

TDCPP: Tris(1,3-dichloroisopropyl) phosphate or chlorinated tris
This chemical is used as a substitute for pentaDBEBDE. It is a flame retardant for polyurethane foam, vinyl (PVC), epoxy resin and other building insulation materials. It has been used in many infant and toddler products including pajamas, nursing pillows, and strollers. There is some evidence that it is mutagenic, neurotoxic and an endocrine disruptor.