COVID-19 IMPACT SURVEY MAY 2020
The global market for Bromine is projected to reach US$5.3 billion by 2025 sustained largely by emerging new applications and to a lesser extent by the continued yet highly debated use of halogenated flame retardants wherein bromine is the widely used chemical, followed by Chlorine. Over the decades, Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) along with chlorinated flame retardants have become the most widely used flame retardants used almost ubiquitously in plastics, furniture, textiles and electrical/electronic equipment. Benefits of BFRs which have led to their rapid proliferation include unrivalled levels of effectiveness in retarding fire and delaying its spread; lower costs; and ability to provide high flame protection in lower quantities. Types of BFRs widely used include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDES) which are used in plastics; hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDDS) which are used in building thermal insulations; tetrabromobisphenol a (TBBPA) which are used in PCBS, electronics and thermoplastics; and polybrominated biphenyls (PBBS) used in textiles and consumer appliances. Stringent fire safety regulations and standards in homes, hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, offices, factories etc. have over the years led to the popularity of BFRs.
Of late however, several research studies have classified several of the 80 types of brominated flame retardants as global contaminants and environmentally hazardous. These chemicals are also closely linked to endocrine and thyroid disruption, immunotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, cancer and adverse effects on fetal and child development and neurologic function. These include PentaBDE, octaBDE, PBB, PBDE, dekaBDE, HBCDD, and TBBP A. Other brominated flame retardants are also under the radar as a suspected health and environmental hazard, although there exists very limited and hugely dissimilar data on the safety of these compounds in wildlife, food or humans. Lack of limited data and inconclusive scientific opinions make risk characterization and assessment difficult and not foolproof. Performing a hazard characterization is difficult for chemicals that have insufficient information. While this lack of sufficient scientific information regarding exposure and toxicity for all these BFRs result in their approval by the regulatory bodies and their continued used, this does not rule out a possible potential hazard. Under this scenario, there is growing momentum to phase out persistent organic pollutant (POP) brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Faced with the challenge of environmentally sound management, there is strong focus shed on recycling and disposal of end-of-life products containing POP-BFRs. The coming years will witness a much more clearer push towards the use of non-halogenated flame retardants as alternatives to organohalogen flame retardant chemicals; and better use of fire safety technologies like sprinklers, and smoke detectors, fire-safe candles etc. which will reduce the need for toxic fire retardants.
Despite the overhanging challenges in store for BRFs, the market will benefit from the counterbalancing increase in demand for bromine-based completion fluids in onshore and offshore drilling projects, growing consumption of bromine biocides and brominated pesticides in the agricultural sector. The market also stands to benefit from the increasing consumption of bromine in disinfectants and fumigants in the water treatment end-use sector; expanding uses into newer application areas such as flow battery, mercury emission control, crop protection, specialty rubber production etc. Demand is also expected to increase, supported by the use of bromine compounds in various clinical trials focused on therapeutics for Alzheimer`s, dementia, STDs, and certain forms of cancer. China and Europe represent large markets worldwide with a combined share of 50.8% of the global market. China also ranks as the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 10.1% over the analysis period supported by stringent fire safety regulations factories, warehouses, and high-rise buildings, among others.