is widely used to prevent injury from flash fires. There is a concern that BFR may cause cancer.
BFR is a compound that helps inhibit the ignition of combustible organic materials. This
is most widely used as a commercialized chemical flame retardant. BFRs are used in the uniforms worn by chemical and refining employees. It is also very effective in reducing the flammability of electronics, clothes and furniture at the home – affecting pillows, upholstery, paint, kitchen appliances, televisions and carpet.
Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) is a BFR used in several consumer products. It was initially released on the market to replace Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PDBE). PDBE was phased out of the market when a study linked it to increased hormone activity in the body. The new study suggests that TBBPA causes the same type of interference as PBDE - each chemical has the same biological effect.
Brominated Flame Retardants are believed to be toxic to the environment and to humans. Recent studies have linked BFR to increased neurobehavioral effects and endocrine disruption. Earlier this the year, a study revealed TBBPA to cause cancer in lab animals. It is not certain that it can cause cancer in humans. This study showed that TBBPA attached to the enzyme estrogen sulfotransferase (EST) on an atomic level. This enzyme regulates estrogen levels in the body. This interaction between EST and TBBPA can cause abnormal enzyme activity, which has been linked with uterine cancer.
There has been increased criticism against BFRs. Although studies show BFRs could have harmful effects on humans and animals, the production of TBBPA has not stopped - it has continued to increase. It is the most heavily produced brominated fire retardant in the world. Over 200,000 tons of TBBPA are produced annually. Through medical screenings, BFRs have been found in people all over the world. Due to safety concerns, a few European countries have decided to ban some of these chemicals.