Toxic substances list: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) that have the molecular formula C12H(10-n)BrnO in which 4 ≤ n ≤ 10 are a class of substances used as flame retardants in a wide variety of products. Brominated flame retardants are organic compounds that differ in the number of bromine atoms that slow the ignition and spread of fire.

PBDEs have generally been sold in three commercial mixtures that each contain different amounts of the seven PBDE congener groups.

PBDEs are not manufactured in Canada but have been used in commercial applications and products available to consumers, such as residential upholstered furniture foam, automotive parts, aerospace parts, appliances, electrical and electronic equipment and building materials. Other uses identified for PBDEs included textiles, adhesives and sealants, rubber products and coatings. DecaBDE is still used within certain manufactured items such as automotive parts and pallets used for the transportation of goods. Any of the seven PBDE congener groups may also be present within manufactured items made from recycled plastics containing PBDEs, such as pens, shredders, staplers, and wire spool. Releases of PBDEs to the environment can occur during manufacturing and processing operations, throughout the service life of articles containing PBDEs, and when articles that contain PBDEs are disposed.

For more information on these substances, please visit the Chemical Substances website and the Chemicals at a glance information sheet for PBDEs.

Risk assessment

Risk management strategy

Strategies and actions recommended to manage risks associated with the substances:

Risk management strategy

Evaluation of Canada’s efforts to manage risks to the environment and human health caused by the substances:

Risk management tools

Tools developed to manage risks associated with the substances:

International engagement

For information on Canada's international engagement on these substances, please visit:


Consultations (past and present) on the substances:

Other Information


Chemicals Management Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3


Substances Management Information Line:
Telephone: 1-800-567-1999 (in Canada) or 819-938-3232
Fax: 819-938-3231


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