With the intention of shining a “spotlight on regulation”, much discussion was focussed on the latest assessments of the possible hazards of antimony substances in the USA and EU, as well as efforts by industry stakeholders to ensure that conclusions drawn are based on a well-informed interpretation of data and that actual real-world exposure risks are understood and considered. The i2a, for example, has worked to develop a methodology for the monitoring of workplace exposure and is investing in research to better understand the toxicology of ten antimony compounds and to fill gaps in the existing data.
Antimony, largely in the form of the trioxide (Sb2O3), is used widely as a synergist in flame retardant additives where it enhances the retardancy effect of brominated compounds. Recent findings on the possibility of human carcinogenicity of Sb2O3 by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP), and ongoing substance evaluation of antimony compounds under the EU’s REACH regulations, have the potential to negatively impact the antimony industry as they may lead (either indirectly or directly) to the introduction of new regulations by various national, regional or state authorities. However, industry participants are keen to demonstrate that the risks associated with antimony use are both low and manageable and that there is no evidence of risk to end-users of antimony-containing products where exposure by inhalation is not a concern.
During the conference, the view was also expressed that the antimony industry should be more proactive in promoting to the wider public the benefits of antimony-containing products for which, in some applications, it was noted that there is no technically and economically competitive alternative available.
More information on the antimony market trends can be found in Roskill’s 13th edition of the Antimony: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook published in 2018, which is kept up to date with quarterly reports and access to the analysts.