August 05, 2013

Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) is a bromine-containing flame retardant used primarily in polystyrene insulating foam. It is used in very low amounts (0.2–0.7% in the foam), but it accumulates in the environment and is toxic to aquatic organisms and laboratory animals. Earlier this year, member countries of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants agreed to end HBCD production, but a ban on its use will not go into effect until 2019. Current HBCD producers have committed to developing alternative flame retardants.

HBCD is a mixture of 16 diastereomers. One of the more abundant ones, (–)-α, is shown in the figure.

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