Lisa Melymuk – Masaryk University (MU), Czech Republic
Flame Retardants data from Europe – results and policy implications – 27 April – 2:10 pm CEST
Flame retardants (FRs) have presented a complex challenge under HBM4EU, due to the diversity of chemicals within the group, the rapidly changing FR market, and the lack of established biomonitoring methodologies. Under HBM4EU, human exposure and toxicity were surveyed for 62 FRs, and a subset of FRs was quantified in European children from six countries.
Concern regarding brominated FR resulted in restrictions and phase-out of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecane – so-called “legacy FRs”. Meta-analyses conducted under HBM4EU identified the positive impact of restrictions on halting the exponential increases in population levels of these legacy FRs.
However, with the market shift away to replacement FRs, particularly organophosphate-based FRs, a new challenge arises. New biomonitoring under HBM4EU indicates widespread population exposure to replacement FRs, and a comprehensive review of toxicological data highlighted a serious lack of information on the hazard of these alternative FRs, and a lack of capacity in analytical laboratories for analysis of these FRs in human matrices. These information gaps are a serious challenge, prohibiting informed risk assessment and decision making.
Lisa Melymuk is an Assistant Professor in Environmental Chemistry at RECETOX, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, and holds an adjunct position in the Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada. She is the Compound Group Leader on Flame Retardants within HBM4EU. At Masaryk University she leads a research group on Chemical Pollutants and Human Exposure Routes. Her research focuses on understanding chemical pollutants and associated human exposure pathways, combining measurement and modelling techniques. She is active in the NORMAN Working Group on Indoor Environments, and has published more than 50 scientific articles in high-impact journals.
The HBM4EU project was launched in 2016 with the aim of improving the collective understanding of human exposure to hazardous chemicals and developing HBM as an exposure assessment method. The project had €74m in funding and jointly implemented by 120 partners from 28 participating countries – 24 EU member states plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Israel and the European Environment Agency. One of its aims was to ensure the sustainability of HBM in the EU beyond 2021. The project ended in June 2022. The website will not be updated any longer, except the page on peer reviewed publications, but will be online until 2032.