HBCD and What the CDRA Does

Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD) is a chemical no longer used in foam panel insulation, and even when it was used, it was a small part of the total number of foam panels manufactured. Today, the best estimates are that foam panels containing HBCD make up about .015 percent of the C&D waste stream, making it virtually non-existent.

That isn’t stopping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the chemical after they determined the material is hazardous. To do this, the EPA is moving into a new arena, regulating the workplace to safeguard workers from something that is basically not there. And there could possibly be strong regulations that come out of the ongoing rule writing going on at the agency.

Of course, safety regulations in the workplace have long been the domain of OSHA, but a line in the Toxic Substance Control Act includes the word “workers,” so EPA, which is proving to be very active under the current administration, is moving forward to protect laborers from HBCD in industries from remodeling to waste disposal.

The CDRA has long had a good relationship with the U.S. EPA, and when the agency entered the relatively uncharted waters of workplace regulation, staff reached out to the CDRA to get input on how HBCD foam panels are handled in recycling facilities and C&D landfills. They thought we were recycling these panels, which are rarely seen in a mixed C&D plant. When we informed them that the material was virtually nonexistent in the waste stream, we thought that was the end of it.

Instead, EPA is plunging ahead with potentially requiring APF-10 masks for all workers who might come into contact with these foam panels for maybe five seconds every other month or so. The CDRA worked with the Small Business Administration to carefully explain again that these foam panels are an inconsequential part of the C&D stream.

We think the EPA heard us this time. It remains to be seen how they will craft the upcoming rule, as they still seemed eager to regulate strongly. But the CDRA provided them the input they needed to hear. For more than 25 years, the CDRA has promoted the recycling of construction materials and will continue to do so in the future.

Indeed, the CDRA will soon work with a lobbying firm to provide members with weekly reports on recycling and other relevant bills in all 50 states. We are taking that route because C&D is so heavy, the legislation that most strongly affects construction materials recyclers is regional in nature. Please stay tuned for more information on that.

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