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Stocks, flows and emissions of DBDPE in China and its international distribution through products and waste

Shen, Kaihui, Li, Li, Liu, Junzhou, Chen, Chengkang, Liu, Jianguo
Environmental pollution 2019 v.250 pp. 79-86
bioaccumulation, electronic equipment, electronic wastes, emissions, ethane, exports, flame retardants, international trade, material flow analysis, toxicity, China, North America
Decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) is an alternative to the commercial decabromodiphenyl ether (deca-BDE) mixture but has potentially similar persistence, bioaccumulation potential and toxicity. While it is widely used as a flame retardant in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in China, DBDPE could be distributed globally on a large scale with the international trade of EEE emanating from China. Here, we performed a dynamic substance flow analysis to estimate the time-dependent mass flows, stocks and emissions of DBDPE in China, and the global spread of DBDPE originating in China through the international trade of EEE and e-waste. Our analysis indicates that, between 2006 and 2016, ∼230 thousand tonnes (kt) of DBDPE were produced in China; production, use and disposal activities led to the release of 196 tonnes of DBDPE to the environment. By the end of 2016, ∼152 kt of the DBDPE produced resided in in-use products across China. During the period 2000–2016, ∼39 kt of DBDPE were exported from China in EEE products, most of which (>50%) ended up in North America. Based on projected trends of China's DBDPE production, use and EEE exports, we predict that, by 2026, ∼74 and ∼14 kt of DBDPE originating in China will reside in in-use and waste stocks, respectively, in regions other than mainland China, which will act as long-term emission sources of DBDPE worldwide. This study discusses the considerable impact of DBDPE originating in China and distributed globally through the international trade of EEE; this is projected to occur on a large scale in the near future, which necessitates countermeasures.