Rapid screening test for polystyrene foams containing HBCDD flame retardant

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  • HBCDD: a substance of very high concern
  • PolyFR to replace HBCDD in building and construction applications
  • Rapid on-site screening test allows foams containing HBCDD and PolyFR to be distinguished

A new and rapid screening test for the first time allows polystyrene foams from the building and construction industry containing the flame retardant HBCDD to be identified on-site and sorted for recycling. The screening method was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in collaboration with BASF.

HBCDD: substance of very high concern

In recent years expanded and extruded polystyrene foams (EPS and XPS) used for building and construction purposes have contained the brominated flame retardant HBCDD (hexabromocyclododecane). Back in 2008 the European Commission classified HBCDD as a substance of very high concern and in 2011 it was added to Annex XIV of the REACH Regulation. At a global level the substance was classified as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) and on 9 May 2013 HBCDD was added to Annex A (Elimination) of the POP list.

PolyFR to replace HBCDD in building and construction applications

In response to these new statutory boundary conditions, a new brominated flame retardant called PolyFR was developed to replace HBCDD in building and construction applications of EPS and XPS. The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, working in collaboration with BASF, has now developed a rapid on-site screening test which allows polystyrene foams containing HBCDD and PolyFR to be distinguished. This is important for, amongst other things, waste management for old building renovations and demolition projects. The screening test allows optimal recycling routes to be selected for these waste streams.

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