Ojārs Balcers (LV)
A Couple of Dozen Nasty POPs and the International Reference Life Cycle Data System

Nearly 10 % of fire damage is caused by faults in wiring and electric installation. In order to reduce the damage it is possible to use fire resistant materials such as PVC – polyvinyl chloride. It is a thermoplastic resin made of 57 % chlorine and it is chemically stable. Recently, PVC has been often used in manufacturing window frames. It can be argued that PVC is one of the most used materials in the world. However, when PVC is set on fire, then hydrogen chloride forms. Upon contact with atmospheric water, it forms dense hydrochloric acid. These substances can cause cough, choking and inflammation and in severe cases – a circulatory system failure but in a concentration over 0.05 % – death.

With the development of chemical industry, fire resistant materials have indeed become a major industry. In addition, when being exposed to the environment, these materials enter the food chain, they easily bio-accumulate across state boundaries and inflict damage on the far flung regions. This kind of situation can be even observed in the Arctic region, where these substances have been never used or produced. In fact, there is hardly a place left to hide from the POPs (persistent organic pollutants) in the whole world.

United States Patent Application No. 20110144244 of 2011 reveals that Inventor Jean L Lee assigns to Assignee Apple Inc. the intellectual property of halogen-free flame retardant materials. Thus, it is likely that iPads, iPhones, iPods and macs will become safer in the future. Yet, other product producers may have to look for other solutions, such as offered by the European Commission adhering to Life Cycle thinking and assessment: [ http://lct.jrc.ec.europa.eu/assessment ].

The International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) is in charge of directing decisions on how to reduce the adverse impacts caused by the consumer society, whilst applying scientific approaches of life cycle thinking and life cycle assessment.

Ojars Balcers (1967) comes from Riga. He attended Riga Secondary School No. 1 and in 1991 graduated from Physics Department of the University of Latvia. He holds a Ph.D. in Materials Physics (2008). Presently, he works with life cycle assessment and materials related topics. Balcers’ other interests include linguistics (phonetics, contrastive linguistics and poetry) and environment protection.