||Nathan Cummings Foundation
||Withdrawn; company will provide majority of information requested
Whereas: Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have been the focus of intense scientific study for more than a decade. Scientists have found various brominated flame retardants building up in the environment and have identified links between BFRs and changes in laboratory animals’ brains, reproductive systems, livers and thyroids. Studies have also found that an estimated 5 percent of American women have polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a class of brominated flame retardant, in their bodies at levels greater than those shown to cause reproductive problems in laboratory animals.
Brominated flame retardants have also been the focus of regulatory action in both the US and abroad. According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, BFRs are chemically similar to PCBs, which were banned in the United States in 1979 due to their high toxicity, persistence in the environment and potential to cause developmental problems in children. Two BFRs, the penta and octa forms, were banned by the European Union in 2004 and are now banned in at least 10 US states.
The deca form, which Albemarle currently sells, was banned from use in electronics and electrical equipment in the European Union beginning in July of 2008. Washington enacted a ban on deca in mattresses beginning January 1, 2008 and in TVs, computers and residential upholstered furniture effective in 2011 if a safer, technically feasible alternative is found. Maine has also banned deca from mattresses and residential upholstered furniture beginning January 1, 2008, and bans televisions, computers or other electronic devices with deca in their outside casing beginning in 2010. Deca bans have also been introduced in other state legislatures.
A number of American companies have voluntarily committed to eliminating deca from their products. For example, Hewlett-Packard’s goals for 2007 included the elimination of BFRs in the external case plastic parts of all new product models introduced after December 31, 2006 as well as the elimination of remaining uses of BFRs as alternatives are identified. Dell currently prohibits the use of deca for all applications.
Albemarle is a member of the Bromine Science and Environment Forum (BSEF), which supports research and lobbying on behalf of the world’s leading producers of BFRs. Albemarle also supported Californians for Fire Safety (CFS), which lobbied on PBDEs.
Resolved: Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report within six months, at reasonable cost and excluding confidential information, on expenditures for each year from 2003 to 2007 on attorneys’ fees, experts’ fees, lobbying and public relations/media expenses, relating in any way to the health and environmental consequences of brominated flame retardants.
Supporting statement: We believe the report should also include policy options for developing and marketing safer alternatives without the public health concerns associated with brominated flame retardants.