Letter to ES&T re La Guardia et al from Albemarle, accepted for publication in near future.
Comment on La Guardia et al.’s (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 6707-6706.) Speculation on the Origin of Monochloro-Nonabromodipehnyl Ethers.
La Guardia et al.1 commented on the detection of three nonabromochlorodiphenyl ethers (NBCDEs) in air and soil samples from Guangzhou China and at an e-waste recycling area2, and speculated in this and a prior publication3 that these compounds were impurities in Albemarle Corporation’s commercial decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) product. Albemarle would like to set the record straight. Yes, Albemarle filed the patent application described in La Guardia et al. (2011). Albemarle has an active research and development program, files many patent applications as a result of this active research and development, and holds numerous patents. A substantial number of these patents and patent applications include processes that are never commercialized, including the process described in the cited patent application4. In fact, Albemarle abandoned the cited patent application some time ago, and a simple check of the public patent databases would have revealed this. Our manufacturing process for DecaBDE does not use bromine chloride or mixtures of bromine and chlorine. Albemarle has never commercialized a bromochlorodiphenyl ether and has no intention to do so, nor do we do manufacture a “decahalodiphenyl oxide” product as indicated in the authors’ 2010 publication on page 4663. Albemarle does not manufacture DecaBDE in China.
To our knowledge, the authors did not contact Albemarle to ascertain whether their speculation was based on fact. Rather, La Guardia et al. (2010, 2011) assumed a patent equated to a commercial product, a commercial product’s market introduction was that of the patent date, and a business presence in a country equaled manufacture of a product in that country. Those assumptions are incorrect. We recommend the authors, and the editors of Environmental Science & Technology, do a better job of fact checking prior to publication. Erroneous publications such as these divert attention and research dollars from meaningful pursuits.
Marcia L. Hardy*^, Niomi L. Krystowczyk^, Steve W. LeVan+, David W. Clary++
^Health, Safety and Environment, Albemarle Corporation, 451 Florida Street, Baton Rouge, LA
+Advocacy, Albemarle Corporation, 451 Florida Street, Baton Rouge, LA
++Chief Sustainability Officer, Albemarle Corporation, 451 Florida Street, Baton Rouge, LA
(1) La Guardia, M.; Hale, R.; Harvey, E.; Harvey, E.; Chen, D. Comment on “Identification of Monochloro-Nonabromodiphenyl Ethers in the Air and Soil Samples from South China”. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 6707-6706.
(2) Yu, Z.; Zheng, K.; Ren, G.; Wang, D.; Ma, S.; Peng, P.; Wu, M.; Sheng, G.; Fui, J. Identification of Monochloro-Nonabromodiphenyl Ethers in the Air and Soil Samples from South China. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 2619-2625.
(3) La Guardia, M.; Hale, R.; Harvey, E.; Chen, D. Flame-Retardants and Other Organohalogens Detected in Sewage Sludge by Electron Capture Negative Ion Mass Spectrometry. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2010, 44, 4658-4664.
(4) WIPO, WO/2008/027780, Preparation of decahalodiphenyl oxide. http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/wo.jsp?WO=2008027780 (as cited by La Guardia et al. 2011).