The manufacture, distribution and processing of products containing pentabrominated diphenyl ether (pentaBDE) and octabrominated diphenyl ether (octaBDE) flame retardants will be prohibited in California as of June 1, 2006 (California Health and Safety Code Sections 108920 et seq.); only products manufactured after June 1, 2006, are subject to the prohibition. This prohibition was prompted by findings that exposures to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widespread, and may pose health risks. However, the manufacture, distribution and processing of products containing the most commonly used PBDE mixture, decabrominated diphenyl ether (decaBDE), has not been prohibited. PentaBDEs and octaBDEs are ubiquitous and Californians will continue to be exposed to them after June 1, 2006. On May 27, 2005 the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) Secretary directed the formation of a workgroup of representatives from Cal/EPA Boards, Departments and Office (BDO) to consider the nature and extent of the PBDE problem and to recommend actions Cal/EPA could take to mitigate exposures to reduce risks of potential PBDE health effects. The California Department of Health Services (DHS) also contributed expertise and provided representatives to the Cal/EPA PBDE Workgroup. This report was prepared in response to the Cal/EPA Secretary’s directive.
The principal focus of this report is to address continuing exposures of Californians to PBDEs after June 1, 2006. The report provides information on PBDEs and briefly summarizes past and ongoing Cal/EPA BDO and DHS activities related to PBDEs. Based on this preliminary evaluation, the Cal/EPA PBDE Workgroup proposes specific steps to be taken by Cal/EPA BDOs and DHS to reduce PBDE exposures.