Dynamic Substance Flow Analysis as a Valuable Risk Evaluation Tool – A Case Study for Brominated Flame Retardants as an Example of Potential Endocrine Disrupters


  • Leo S. Morf
  • Andreas M. Buser
  • Ruedi Taverna
  • Hans-Peter Bader
  • Ruth Scheidegger




Anthroposphere, Brominated flame retardants, Dynamic substance flow analysis, Emission, Lifecycle of chemicals


Most studies of potentially hazardous substances focus on aspects of their occurrence and fate in the environment (monitoring and modelling studies) to estimate the environmental impact and the potential exposure of humans. In order to evaluate emission sources, to recognise environmental impacts at an early stage, and to take efficient legislative or technical measures, it is essential to know their behaviour in the anthroposphere as a function of time. So far, only very few investigations of this type exist for chemicals. In regular risk assessments, only rather limited knowledge is available concerning the behaviour of chemicals in the anthroposphere (production data, substance quantities in products, recycling rates, emissions occurring during use, etc.) or their lifecycle, and no information at all about their behaviour as a function of time. For this reason, it is these aspects that were investigated in a case study within the framework of the national research programme NRP50 for selected brominated flame retardants with endocrine-disrupting potential (pentabromodiphenyl ether, hexabromocyclododecane) or the potential to degrade to such substances (decabromodiphenyl ether). A dynamic substance flow analysis (SFA) model was performed for Switzerland for the time period 1980–2020. In this review paper (a) we present a summary of typical results (system overview, consumption trends/application patterns, anthropogenic stocks and their changes, emission trends including major sources and environmental fate), (b) we summarize the effectiveness of recent risk-reduction measures in Switzerland and (c) we indicate serious remaining data gaps and recommend further important measures for risk reduction. For the future, we suggest improving the knowledge of the lifecycle of chemicals such as brominated flame retardants by applying SFA as a suitable tool to weight the effect of substance flows with respect to environmental emissions, and to serve as the basis for planning actions and measures to reduce such emissions. This is in line with one major conclusion of the NRP50 consensus platform 'Brominated Flame Retardants'.




How to Cite

L. S. Morf, A. M. Buser, R. Taverna, H.-P. Bader, R. Scheidegger, Chimia 2008, 62, 424, DOI: 10.2533/chimia.2008.424.



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