Chemical Co. Will Stop Production of Controversial Flame Retardants

In a bit of positive news about nasty chemicals, the manufacturer of two flame retardants that have been found in increasing concentrations in the bodies of humans and wildlife announced yesterday that it would stop producing the chemicals next year. The company, Indianapolis-based Great Lakes Chemical Corp., had been under growing pressure from scientists and regulators over the past few months to phase out two varieties of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are commonly used in furniture and electronics; the chemicals accumulate in human breast milk and may interfere with the development of infants’ brains. The flame retardants have already been banned in Europe, and this summer California passed a law to phase them out by 2008. Great Lakes denied that the chemicals pose any risks but said it had developed a replacement flame retardant. Enviros, though, warn that the new product has not been thoroughly tested for toxicity or bioaccumulation.