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Increasing air pollution levels have prompted a crackdown on bromine manufacturers in China. A broad policy having to do with safety and environmental regulations has been in existence for two years, but this is now being enforced more vigorously.
Starting in early August, government auditing teams began investigating companies in the Shandong Province, many of which are small- or medium-sized firms. A number of manufacturers have shut down, some permanently and others temporarily to make improvements. Sources place the shutdowns at up to 80%.
The end-result is, or will be, a significant shortage of bromine compounds including TBBPA, the common flame-retardant used in making fire-retardant laminate materials for the electronics industry. Prices of TBBPA have already increased considerably, and the Chinese market is facing a shortage. The effect worldwide on laminate manufacturers is unknown at this time, but coupled with recent price increases in copper and fiberglass, it does not bode well for the electronics industry.