NAFRA Comments on Washington State Draft Rules

WASHINGTON (December 9, 2022) – TThe American Chemistry Council (ACC) North American Flame Retardant Alliance (NAFRA) issued the following statement in response to proposed restrictions and reporting requirements from the Washington State Department of Ecology (Department of Ecology) regarding the use of halogenated organic flame retardants (OFRs). ) in housings and housings of electronic and electrical equipment. The proposal is part of Safer Products for Washington – Cycle 1.

“The Department of Environment’s Safer Product Proposal for Washington goes well beyond any other state, federal or international product safety regulation by restricting the use of OFRs in the enclosures and housings of indoor electronic and electrical equipment. The proposal also creates onerous and ambiguous reporting requirement for manufacturers of electronic and electrical equipment intended for outdoor use that contain OFRs in the case or case. In either case, the ability to apply OFR chemistry to a variety of electronic products could be compromised. NAFRA continues to raise concerns about the direction and language of the Safer Products proposal for Washington and the Environment Department’s regulatory approach.

“The public health risks posed by fire remain a concern for Washington state. In 2021, there were more than 5,000 home fires in the state, resulting in more than $200 million in property damage. In the span between 2008 and 2017, there were 581 fire-related deaths among Washington state residents, with the second most common cause reported as “electrical,” including misuse of electrical equipment, improperly installed wiring, overloaded circuits, or misuse of electrical extension cords.

“Flame retardants are used to reduce fire risks and meet product safety standards. One of the key benefits of flame retardants in product design is that they can help prevent small ignition events from growing into larger fires. This can reduce the risk of fire spreading, giving people more time to escape and emergency responders more time to respond.1

“NAFRA’s recommendations for improving the regulatory program include the following:

  • Product design requirements should be given greater consideration. Simple substitution is not always possible as OFRs may be the only option to meet performance requirements for some products. Even if a product redesign is possible, recertification is a time-consuming process that often takes years.
  • An improved approach to evaluating alternatives is needed, with the same criteria for evaluating OFRs and identified alternatives. The current assessment approach restricts the use of multiple OFRs, despite meeting the Department of Ecology’s threshold criteria for safety.
  • The scope for regulation is too broad and should be narrowed. Washington State’s draft rule does not differentiate between individual OFR chemicals and does not even provide a comprehensive list of covered indoor or outdoor products. Electronic and electrical equipment is a product category with complex supply chains and additional clarity is needed.

“All regulations should also be based on relevant federal and international regulations. Otherwise, consumers and manufacturers are faced with a confusing landscape of conflicting and overlapping regulations that can impact the availability of electronic and electrical products. The regulation proposal also ignores recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, which caution against regulating OFRs as a single class because of their broad and unique diversity.

“Washington State should take a more comprehensive look at the value and diversity of this class of chemicals used in electronic and electrical products. NAFRA will continue its efforts to improve rulemaking for this new program to ensure chemicals and the products that enable them are safe and available.”

  1. Blais, Matthew S, Karen Carpenter, and Kyle Fernandez. “Comparative room combustion study of furnished rooms from the United Kingdom, France and the United States.” Feuertechnik (2019): 1-26.
American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies in the multi-billion dollar chemical business. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to create innovative products, technologies and services that make people’s lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; advocating common sense that addresses important public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemical companies are among the largest investors in research and development, advancing products, processes and technologies to combat climate change, improve air and water quality and advance towards a more sustainable circular economy.


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