Decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) - information sheet

Benzene, 1,1'-(1,2-ethanediyl)bis [2,3,4,5,6-pentabromo-Decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE)
CAS Registry Number 84852-53-9

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  • The Government of Canada conducted a science-based evaluation, called a screening assessment of DBDPE to address the potential for harm to Canadians and to the environment.
  • Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA, 1999), the risk posed by a substance is determined by considering both its hazardous properties (its potential to cause adverse human health or ecological effects) and the amount of exposure there is to people and the environment. A substance may have hazardous properties; however, the risk to human health or to the environment may be low depending upon the level of exposure.
  • As a result of this screening assessment, it is concluded that DBDPE is not harmful to human health; however it is harmful to organisms in the environment at current levels of exposure.

About this substance

  • This screening assessment focuses on 1 of 10 substances referred to collectively under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) as the Certain Organic Flame Retardants Substance Grouping which includes organic substances having similar function: application to materials to slow the ignition and spread of fire. The substance addressed in this assessment is benzene, 1,1'-(1,2-ethanediyl)bis [2,3,4,5,6-pentabromo-, also referred to as decabromodiphenyl ethane or DBDPE.
  • DBDPE does not occur naturally in the environment.
  • According to information gathered by the Government, DBDPE is used in Canada as an additive flame retardant in many applications, such as plastic and rubber materials, electrical and electronic equipment, adhesives and sealants.

Human and ecological exposures

  • The main source of exposure for Canadians is expected to be from the indoor environment as DBDPE is commonly found in house dust. This may be from electronic equipment containing DBDPE or from dust transported into homes from outside environments.
  • DBDPE may be released to the Canadian environment from waste streams or effluents in industrial processing activities. Releases to the environment may also occur from products available to consumers or commercial products.

Key health and ecological effects (hazard)

  • On the basis of the available information, no effects on human health were identified.
  • The substance has the potential to cause reproductive effects to earthworms at high concentrations, as well as effects on plant survival and growth.
  • Although degradation (break down) of DBDPE in the environment is expected to be slow, it may transform into substances that would be persistent, bioaccumulative in some cases, and potentially highly toxic to aquatic organisms.

Risk assessment outcomes

  • Given the information available on potential human health effects, DBDPE is not a concern to human health.
  • However, due to the potential hazardous effects of the break down products of DBDPE, it may pose a risk to aquatic organisms.
  • Considering all information presented, it was determined that there is risk of harm to the environment.
  • Also, DBDPE is proposed to meet the persistence criteria, but not the bioaccumulation criteria as set out in the Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations of CEPA 1999. DBDPE may contribute to the formation of persistent, bioaccumulative, and inherently toxic substances when it breaks down in the environment.
  • The Government of Canada published the Final Screening Assessment for DBDPE on May 11, 2019.

Screening assessment conclusions

  • As a result of this assessment, the Government concluded that DBDPE is not harmful to human health.
  • However, the Government concluded that DBDPE is entering or may enter the environment at levels that are harmful to the environment.

Preventive actions and reducing risk

Related information

  • Canadians who may be exposed to DBDPE in the workplace should consult with their employer and an occupational health and safety (OHS) representative about safe handling practices, applicable laws, and requirements under OHS legislation and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).

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