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Company: Chemtura
Subject: Lobbying--BFRs
Year: 2009
Sector: Chemical Production
Lead Filer: Adrian Dominican Sisters
Outcome: Company filed for bankruptcy 3/18/09; annual meeting postponed

Whereas: Brominated flame retardants as a class of chemicals have become the focus of intensive scientific study and regulatory action for at least 10 years, as scientists have found various brominated flame retardants building up in the environment and have linked them to effects on laboratory animals’ brains, reproductive system, liver, and thyroid function.

An estimated 5 percent of American women have levels of PBDEs in their body greater than levels that have been shown to cause reproductive problems in laboratory animals.

Brominated flame retardants are chemically similar to PCBs, which were banned in the United States in 1979 due to their high toxicity, persistence in the environment, and evidence they can cause developmental problems in children.

Two brominated flame retardants, the penta- and octa- forms, were banned by European Union regulators in 2004 and have been banned by at least 10 states including California.

The European Union banned deca- from electronics and electrical equipment effective in 2008. The State of Washington enacted a ban on deca- in mattresses in 2007 and a ban in TVs, computers, and residential upholstered furniture effective in 2011 if safer, technically feasible substitutes are found. Maine has banned deca- from mattresses and residential upholstered furniture beginning January 1, 2008, and bans televisions, computers or other electronic devices having deca- in their outside casing in 2010. Deca- bans have been introduced in other state legislatures.   Dell and Hewlett-Packard are among a dozen electronics companies that have banned deca- from their products and plan to ban all brominated flame retardants from their products by 2011.

Chemtura is one of four global bromine producers funding the Bromine Science and Environment Forum (BSEF). Managed by public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, BSEF supports research and lobbying. Chemtura is also a supporter of Californians for Fire Safety (CFS), which lobbied on PBDEs in California. In California alone in 2007, Burson-Marsteller, on behalf of BSEF and CFS, reported lobbying expenses of at least $6.3 million. 

Resolved: that the Board of Directors issue a report within six months, at reasonable expense and exclude confidential information, on expenditures for each year from 2003 to 2007 on attorney's fees, expert fees, lobbying, and public relations/media expenses, relating in any way to the health and environmental consequences of brominated flame retardants.

Supporting statement: Proponents believe such report should also include policy options for developing and marketing safer alternatives that do not raise the public health concerns raised by brominated flame retardants.


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