SAFEGUARDS | Consumer Products NO. 057/16

SafeGuardS chemicals

The European Union (EU) has recently prohibited the manufacture, placing on the market and use of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD), a flame retardant used in a variety of consumer products. The new law has a number of specific exemptions and will take effect starting March 21, 2016.

POP History

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) was adopted in May 2001 and entered into force in May 2004. [1] This is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment by eliminating the use POP chemicals, or restricting the production and use of these chemicals.

In May 2001, the EU signed the Stockholm Convention. [2] This was ratified in November 2004 and entered into force in February 2005. This commitment at the Union level was published under Regulation (EC) No. 850/2004 [3] on POPs. This regulation has been amended on many occasions, including setting a limit for short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) in articles [4] in 2015. 

Amending European Regulation Of Persistent Organic Pollutants

On March 2, 2016, the EU published Regulation (EU) 2016/293 [5] amending Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on persistent organic pollutants prohibiting the manufacture, placing on the market and use of HBCDD. Some important exemptions to this new law include the following:

  • Presence of no more than 100 mg/kg as an unintentional trace contaminant in substances, mixtures, articles or flame-retarded parts of articles. This is subject to review by the Commission by March 22, 2019

  • Production of HBCDD for the manufacture of expanded polystyrene articles subject to authorization under REACH. This is allowed until November 26, 2019

  • Use of expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings [6] with certain conditions

HBCDD is a family of polybrominated flame retardants having a number of applications, including but not limited to:

  • Bean bag filling

  • Domestic electrical appliances

  • Extruded polystyrene (XPS) and expanded polystyrene (PS-E, EPS) in the building industry

  • Packaging materials

  • Textile coating additive in blinds, baby car seats and textiles

  • Upholstered furniture

HBCCD is also a substance of very high concern (SVHC) on the authorisation list [7] falling under ANNEX XIV of REACH. The latest application date for authorization of this SVHC was February 2014 and the sunset date was August 2015. After the latest application date, manufacturers who wish to use HBCDD in their manufacturing processes must wait for a decision before use. The application for authorization also applies to any exemptions under the POP Regulation.

The restriction of HBCDD to no more than 100 mg/kg in substances, mixtures or articles will take effect on March 21, 2016 and is subject to review by March 22, 2019.  Highlights of this restriction are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1

Regulation (EU) 2016/293 amending Annex I of Regulation (EC) No. 850/2004 on POPs
Substance CAS No Scope Requirement Effective Date
  • HBCDD,
  • 1,2,5,6,9,10-HBCDD and its main disastereoisomers:
    • α-HBCDD
    • β-HBCDD and
    • γ-HBCDD


  • Substances
  • Mixtures
  • Articles
  • Flame-retarded parts of articles
Unintentional trace contaminant
≤ 100 mg/kg (subject to review by March 22, 2019)
March 21,2016

Throughout our global network of laboratories, we are able to provide a range of services, including analytical testing and consultancy, for HBCDD and other hazardous substances in consumer products for the EU and international markets. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

For enquiries, please contact:

Hing Wo Tsang
Global Hardlines
t: +852 2774 7420

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