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Unformatted text preview: Page 1 www.storyofstuff.com Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs): a class of toxic industrial chemicals routinely added to con- sumer products such as clothes, furniture, and electronics to reduce fire-related injury and property damage. BFRs are applied to 2.5 million tons of plastics annually. North American industry is the largest user of BFRs globally; however, a significant proportion of products manufactured in North America are destined for international markets. Within the U.S., and worldwide, the electronics indus- try accounts for the greatest consumption of BFRs. In computers, BFRs are used in printed circuit boards, components such as connectors, plastic covers, and cables. BFRs are also used in a multitude of products, including plastic covers of television sets, carpets, paints, upholstery, and domestic kitchen appliances. A 2005 report released by Health Care Without Harm called Brominated Flame Retardants: Rising Levels of Concern, has this to say: Whereas flame resistant products save lives and prevent property damage, there are increasing concerns about the environmental and health effects of flame-retardants such as BFRs. Overall, the available literature on BFR toxicology is incomplete. Based on the available data, however, we know that BFRs are associated with several health effects in animal studies, including neurobehavioral toxicity, thyroid hormone dis- ruption, and possibly cancer. Additionally, there are data gaps but some evidence that BFRs can cause developmental effects, endocrine disruption, immunotoxicity, reproductive, and long-term effects, including second-generation effects. Byproduct: something produced while producing something else. Usually byproducts are not inten- tional, and often are not desired. A byproduct can be useful and marketable, or it can have severe ecological and health consequences. Some examples of industrial byproducts that may be either harmful or useful: molasses is a byproduct of making sugar; sawdust is a byproduct of processing lumber; mercury pollution is a byproduct of gold mining; dioxin is a byproduct of burning plastics; and CO2 is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels. When thinking about extraction, production, consumption, and waste, it is important to think about byproducts, because many industries produce more byprod- ucts than products; many industrial byproducts can be used in other industrial processes (see Clean Production and Closed Loop Production , below). Carcinogens: chemicals that cause cancer. Story of Stuff Glossary Page 2 www.storyofstuff.com Clean Production: a way to manufacture goods that reduces total materials flow, uses minimal resources, harnesses renewable energy, and creates minimal waste. Clean production is based on the production of goods and services as part of a life cycle, rather than a linear flow: limited sustain- able extraction of renewable resources >> safe processing of raw materials into non-toxic products designed for durability and re-use >> minimal consumption >> disposal that either composts or...
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