It looks as though the Washington Department of Ecology has taken another step towards banning PBDEs, the toxic flame retardants that now contaminate the bodies of Northwesterners at alarmingly high levels. They’ve just published an interim plan that recommends that the state legislature officially ban the manufacture, distribution and sale of some forms of PBDEs by 2006. Of course, those are also the forms that are already being phased out nationally, so that isn’t a particularly innovative recommendation.
More daringly, the plan calls for the departments of health and ecology to put together a list of products from which deca-PBDE, the most widely used form of the compounds, should be banned. While this is a far cry from an outright ban on deca-PBDE, which environmentalists had argued for, it’s controversial stuff: deca-PBDE is used in airplane manufacturing (paging Boeing…) and a bunch of consumer and office electronics. Of course, there are alternative flame retardants on the market for many of these products, and some companies are already looking to remove the compounds voluntarily. But this is one more step nudging manufacturers in the right direction.