Harmful halogenated flame retardants have been mostly phased out of products certified to TCO Certified. However, they have often been replaced with potentially harmful non-halogenated flame retardants where little information about their safety is available. For the new generation TCO Certified, we only accept non-halogenated flame retardants that have been reviewed using GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals.
One feature of the new generation TCO Certified, which was launched in November, is a new approach aimed at further reducing harmful chemicals in IT products. For many years, halogenated substances such as chlorinated and brominated flame retardants have been restricted in TCO Certified products. In the worst case, these could be replaced with non-halogenated substances whose impact on health and the environment may be entirely unknown.
The US CAS Registry has over 86 million chemicals registered. Ineffective legislation means that the majority of these chemicals are not assessed before they reach the market.
Only reviewed and accepted flame retardants may be used
To tackle this issue, we have chosen only to accept the non-halogenated flame retardants that have been verified as safer alternatives, following a review of their effects on health and the environment in line with GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals. These accepted substances are published on the TCO Certified Accepted Substance List.
“We are currently phasing out the most harmful substances of IT products,” explains Stephen Fuller, who is responsible for developing criteria at TCO Development. “The goal is to expand the list on an ongoing basis. Two new substances have already been added, which now brings the list to a total of 13 entries. By asking for products with the latest version of TCO Certified, you are helping to ensure that more substances are assessed and the most harmful ones phased out.”
About halogenated and non-halogenated substances
For many years, harmful halogenated substances have been used as plasticisers and flame retardants in electronics, textiles and other everyday products. They are not readily degradable and they accumulate in people, animals and plants – with carcinogenic risks and disruption of hormone function. Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants are restricted in products that are certified to TCO Certified.
However, the substitute non-halogenated flame retardants can be just as harmful and carry the same inherent risks. The substances that may be used according to TCO Certified are often based on phosphorus and silicon and are included on our TCO Certified Accepted Substance List.
About GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals
GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals is a tool developed by the US organization Clean Production Action and is used by industry to evaluate and compare substances and their effects. In TCO Certified, we only accept the non-halogenated substances that have achieved a benchmark result of 2 or more.
“A transparent list of flame retardants that have been reviewed and accepted is an excellent way of driving the trend towards more toxin-free IT products, and the GreenScreen method is a comprehensive tool for evaluation and comparison,” says Frida Höök, expert at Chemsec.