The total consumption of flame retardants in the USA and Europe for 1996 was approximately 600,000 tonnes with annual rises predicted to be around 4.7%. Flame retardants are used to meet fire safety requirements for plastics in applications as diverse as the transport, furniture, construction and electrical engineering/electronics industries. Their effect is to prevent a fire from occurring, or to limit its spread if it does break out. In flame retarded plastics, environmental criteria are playing an increasingly prominent role. Fire safety for humans and property has to be balanced against environmental and legislative considerations including toxicity of emissions and low smoke production.
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