Hexabromobiphenyl is a persistent, organic pollutant that belongs to the group polybrominated biphenyls.1 Hexabromobiphenyl is a white, chalky solid.2 3
Hexabromobiphenyl is an industrial chemical, which main use has been as a flame retardant in plastics and cables in the 1970’s. Most countries neither produce nor use hexabromobiphenyl today.4 Production and use of the substance is banned in Sweden.5
Sources and transportation pathways
Hexabromobiphenyl does not occur naturally in the environment but is emitted by human activity, such as via waste streams.6 Hexabromobiphenyl is considered to be very persistent and not readily degradable, resulting in its continued presence in the society despite it being banned. There are indications of low to no degradability in water, soil and sediment. In the atmosphere it is considered to exist mainly bound to particles and it spreads to the ecosystem by dry and wet deposition. The substance has been detected in the Arctic wildlife, indicating long-range transport in the atmosphere.7
Effects on environment and health
Hexabromobiphenyl may bioaccumulate in organisms and is biomagnified through the food chain.8 It may cause acute and chronic effects as well as cancer in animals. It is an endocrine disruptor and cause cancer in humans.9 10 Hexabromobiphenyl is harmful to humans if digested, inhaled and through skin contact.11
International agreements and regulations
Hexabromobiphenyl is regulated by the UN Stockholm Convention and the UN Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). The UN Rotterdam Convention regulates international trade with hexabromobiphenyl. The EU E-PRTR regulation regulates how data on hexabromobiphenyl emissions is made available.