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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)

Absalom, Sandra T.
Bromine,   pp. 131-137 ff. PDF (920.6 KB)


Page 131

Bromine 
By Sandra T. Absalom1 
 Elemental bromine sold or used by U.S. producers returned to the rising
trend in annual growth experienced prior to 1977. Expanding foreign markets
and the changing composition of the domestic market were the important factors
affecting U.S. production, which was centered in the State of Arkansas,'
with additional production in Michigan. 
 The primary manufacturers of brominated compounds operated plants in Arkansas,
Michigan, and Texas. One of them, however, discontinued its Michigan operation
in 1978. Primary producers' sales of all types of bromine compounds increased,
although demand for the industry's major product, ethylene dibromide, as
a leadedgasoline additive continued to fall with the Government-regulated
decline in use of leaded gasoline. As laboratory tests were completed on
several potentially harmful bromine compounds, Federal regulatory agencies
acted in accordance with significant test results. 
 Legislation and Government Programs.—The Interagency Regulatory
Liaison
Group (IRLG), which is composed of Federal regulatory agencies, took an important
step to coordinate the attack on potentially hazardous chemicals and other
substances. The original member agencies (Consumer Product Safety Commission,
Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Drug Administration, and Occupational
Safety and Health Administration) formed IRLG in 1977 to share individual
research, data, and analyses; avoid duplicative regulations; and attempt
to set consistent standards to control hazards. In 1978, the group released
a list of 24 compounds, or categories of substances, targeted for special
attention.2 Three brominated organic compounds were included on the list:
Dibromochloropropane, an insecticide; ethylene dibromide, a gasoline additive
and pesticide; and polybrominated biphenyls, the 
industrial fire retardant that in 1973 was accidentally mixed with cattle
feed in Michigan. In 1979, IRLG drafted guidelines for uniform testing among
Federal agencies for five ill effects to humans that could be caused by potentially
harmful chemicals.~ The IRLG goal is to develop a single set of tests to
replace the different tests the agencies now use to determine the same ill
effects. These effects cover acute inhalation, birth defects, acute oral
toxicity, acute eye irritation, and acute skin effects. 
 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued final rules
in 1978 for workplace exposure to dibromochloropropane (DBCP).4 The compound
has been linked to worker sterility in several chemical plants and also was
labeled a possible carcinogen by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).~ The
final exposure limit of 1 part per billion (ppb) averaged over an 5hour workday
is 10 times stricter than the 10-ppb emergency temporary standard ordered
by OSHA in 1977. The final standard also prohibits eye and skin contact with
the agricultural insecticide. Following the recommendation in 1979 of an
administra~ tive law judge, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned
all applications of DBCP except in Hawaiian pineapple groves.6 Other agricultural
uses of DBCP will be suspended indefmitely while further research is conducted.
 EPA issued its final rule extending the compliance deadline for reducing
the amount of lead antiknock compounds in gasoline.~ The rule delays the
agency's deadline for a 0.5-gram-per-gallon limit on lead in gasoline from
October 1979 to October 1980; however, refmers must comply with certain requirements
on gasoline production to qualify for the extension. Increased use of low-lead
and unleaded gasoline will reduce domestic consumption of ethylene dibromide
(EDB), which is used primarily as a scavenger for lead added to gasoline
in 
antiknock compounds. 131 


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