The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will host the Seventh Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) in the Environment on June 13 and 14 , 2005, at the NIST laboratories in Gaithersburg, Md. For years, BFRs have been added to consumer products ranging from carpets and cushions to computers and appliances because they can reduce flame sprawl and provide more time for people to escape.
Fires claim about 3,600 lives annually in the United States and cause an additional $10 billion in direct property loss. However, concerns have grown over the possible toxic effects of these compounds as they leach out into the environment. Some types of BFRs have been implicated in developmental, reproductive, neurotoxic and thyroid effects in rats, mice and fish and may be carcinogenic. Recently, the European Union issued a directive prohibiting use of two specific types of BFRs, referred to as pentaBDE and octaBDE, in consumer products.
The June workshop will include presentations on current work in human exposure to BFRs, their use in consumer products, improved analytical methods, toxicology and their presence in the environment. Dr. Andreas Sjöjin of the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Robert Letcher of the National Wildlife Research Center will give keynote addresses.
Reporters interested in covering this meeting should contact Michael Baum, michael.baum [at] nist.gov, (301) 975-2763.