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Definition of "Halogen-free" Leaves Many Materials Incorrectly Classified: The Florine Loophole
While chlorine and bromine are widely recognized, reported, and banned as halogens in many applications, it is worth noting that fluorine, iodine, and astatine (halogens in the periodic table of other Group 17 / VIIA elements) are not banned in accepted industry definitions. of “halogen-free”. Depending on the industry, considering the “halogen-free” designator, only the halogens chlorine and bromine are restricted and then to levels below 900-1,000 parts per million.
In the case of fluorine used in plastics, many anti-drip agents employed in “halogen-free” plastic compounds, including polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), called Teflon, contain fluorine and have been reported to be used as anti-drip agents. 0.1–1.4 wt% range. Some of these products may contain significant amounts of fluorine above the generally accepted level under IEC 61249-2-21 as the content limit established for other halogens (0.09% or 900 parts per million). In other cases, fluorinated salts are added to plastic products at a typical level of 800 parts per million, especially plastic parts manufactured from polycarbonate, to impart flame retardant properties to the product labeled “halogen-free”.
Additionally, it is important to consider that fluorinated polymeric resins incorporated or blended into the plastic compound do not contribute to the “halogen-free” standing of the finished polymer because fluorine is removed from the list of halogens considered. Fluorinated resins that may be incorporated or blended to provide improved electrical, flammability and processing properties include:
o polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF),
o Copolymer of ethylene and chlorotrifluoroethylene (ECTFE).
O Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP)
The apparent exclusion of fluorine, the polymeric additives and halogens used in plastics that are then routinely compounded into other plastics to impart flame resistance and other properties, is primarily due to testing of fluorine detection methods and limitations. Test methods used to detect bromine and chlorine do not have the ability to detect fluorine, and since such fluorine is not detected and reported, it is also a halogen. Without a significant address in testing methodology, total halogen content is unlikely to be considered by regulators in the near future. However, environmentalists have become aware of potential human impacts in recent developments related to fluorine toxicology and groundwater contamination by the potential effects of thermal decomposition of fluorinated compounds and PTFE.
Potential toxic effects of groundwater contamination by certain fluorinated precursors and byproducts, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in the United States, as well as potential human toxic effects from contact with products containing PTFE produced by DuPont, known as Teflon. ®, may be due to a review of this apparent dual status for halogen materials used throughout the industry. According to the Environmental Research Organization Environmental Working Group:
“…over the past five years, the multi-billion dollar “perfluorochemical” (PFC) industry that oversees such world-famous brands as Teflon®, Stainmaster®, Scotchgard® and Gore-Tex® has emerged as a regulator. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ) a priority for scientists and authorities in the PFC family. The PFC family is characterized by chains of carbon atoms of various lengths, to which fluorine atoms are strongly bonded, producing essentially non-biodegradable chemicals that until recently were considered biologically inert. Now no one thinks so.”
Since 2000, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has conducted critical reviews of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). [US EPA PFOA Factsheet] In 2000, the US EPA mandated the elimination of PFOS, a chemical used for decades as an active ingredient in the popular Scotchgard® stain and water repellent from 3M. Around the same time, 3M stopped manufacturing the related perfluorochemical PFOA.
Throughout 2005, PFOA has been under intense regulatory scrutiny due to reports of groundwater contamination by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. PFOA is most widely used in the manufacture of PTFE. An important brand of PTFE under scrutiny is Dupont Teflon®. Due to toxicity studies and the presence of PFOA in the blood of more than 90% of the United States population, the United States Environmental Protection Agency continues to review human toxicity studies and potential health effects.
In December 2005, DuPont reached a US$16.5 million settlement agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency in enforcement actions related to the chemical compound PFOA; The settlement follows a US$107 million civil settlement in March 2005 by DuPont in West Virginia, United States, in related cases related to alleged PFOA contamination of local drinking water.
In 2006, many states will consider the issue of PFOA and PFOS content in plastics and other materials. In California (USA), a coalition consisting of the United Steelworkers (USW), the Sierra Club, the Environmental Law Foundation, Environment California, the American Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG). A petition was filed to list PFOA as a “chemical known to the state to cause cancer” under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxics Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65. Products based on specific toxicological findings under California Right to Know requirements. Additionally, a preliminary report on perfluorochemical contamination in Minnesota was considered by the Senate Environment Committee in February 2006.
In April 2006, sixteen lawsuits filed in a US$5 billion class-action lawsuit were transferred to a United States federal court in Des Moines, Iowa. Court documents allege that Teflon® manufacturers withheld information about the chemicals used to make Teflon® chemicals that are allegedly released when the pan is heated. Dupont, the maker of Teflon®, says the material is safe.
Along with settlements in recent cases, pending class actions in Iowa (USA) related to potential human poisoning from fluorinated stick-free cooking surfaces, and information developed and shared during peer review, environmental watchdog groups and regulatory authorities alike continue. Their review and investigation into the widespread use of perfluorochemicals in many industries with no immediate indication of potential consequences. It should be noted that the use of perfluorochemicals as anti-drip agents and flame retardants or the use of fluorinated polymers such as PVDF or FEP has not been influenced by any research up to this point. However, since the use of perfluorochemicals is allowed within the guidelines for “halogen-free” materials, the improvement of polymer materials to eliminate the use of these investigated materials offers a significant opportunity from a technological development point of view to provide truly “non-halogen”. Materials for the market.
JMME, Inc., Copyright 2006, All Rights Reserved
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