Methods of responsibly managing end-of-life foams and plastics containing flame retardants. Pt.I
Flame retardants (FRs) are added to foams and plastics to comply with flammability standards and test requirements in products for household and industrial uses. When these regulations were implemented, potential health and environmental impacts of FR use were not fully recognized or understood. Extensive research in the past decades reveal that exposure to halogenated FRs, such as those used widely in furniture foam, is associated with and/or causally related to numerous health effects in animals and humans. While many of the toxic FRs have been eliminated and replaced by other FRs, existing products containing toxic or potentially toxic chemical FRs will remain in use for decades, and new products containing these and similar chemicals will permeate the environment. When such products reach the end of their useful life, proper disposal methods are needed to avoid health and ecological risks. To minimize continued human and environmental exposures to hazardous FR chemicals from discarded products, waste management technologies and processes must be improved. This review discusses a wide range of issues associated with all aspects of the use and responsible disposal of wastes containing FRs, and identifies basic and applied research needs in the areas of responsible collection, pretreatment, processing, and management of these wastes.