Are the alternatives to HBCD safer? The US EPA’s Design for Environment program released its final report identifying alternatives to the flame retardant HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane). A persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic (PBT) chemical with adverse reproductive, developmental, and neurological effects, HBCD presents significant environmental and human health concerns. The “safer” alternative identified by EPA, butadiene styrene brominated copolymer, has the advantage of being a polymeric compound and thus has fewer toxicity concerns. Yet it is environmentally persistent and significant questions remain about its manufacturing and end-of-life stages. Receiving far less EPA attention is the option of alternative materials and products that require no flame retardants – and of first asking: Are flame retardants necessary?