States considering legislation to ban the flame retardant include: Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, and New York.
The United States is not alone in its concerns about decaBDE. In April 2008, the European Union banned decaBDE from use in electrical and electronic equipment.
There is growing momentum for “field-to-fork” safety policies in the U.S. Shortly before he retired, Senator Christopher Dodd, co-author of the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act, urged the FDA to work to ensure that decaBDE in plastic shipping pallets did not enter the food supply.
Dodd’s letter in part stated that “DecaBDE is known to leach out of plastic, and the EPA is concerned about the possible negative health and environmental impact resulting from exposure to the chemical.” Senator Dodd recommended FDA “issue notification to food manufacturers, transporters and retailers…that plastic pallets containing decaBDE are inappropriate for use in scenarios that may bring decabromine into contact with food.”
The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) applauds the actions of Wal-Mart to ban decaBDE from its consumer product shelves, but we would encourage all retailers to review and analyze policies relating to the plastic pallets transporting the goods – particularly food products.
The solid wood packaging industry is working proactively in the field-to-fork safety effort by contributing best handling guidelines for wood pallets and containers used in the food industry. In August, we provided preliminary suggestions to FDA; because they were well received, NWPCA formed a blue-ribbon task group to refine our safe handling recommendations. NWPCA will distribute these guidelines to FDA and to our members for use by their food-industry customers.
Wood is a natural product used not only to transport produce and groceries, but as an actual component of some food products like ice cream bars, popsicles, lollipops, coffee stir sticks, corn dogs and the like. Wood pallets are the benchmark for fire safety and do not require chemical flame retardants.