"There are many options to substitute BVO with safe chemicals," Vetter said. "I am not aware of significant disadvantages of BVO over hydrocolloids or vice versa."
With natural alternatives already in use in other countries, why not switch in North America too?
Wim Thielemans, a chemical engineer at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, said since the alternatives are already used in Europe "their performance must be acceptable, if not comparable, to the U.S.-used brominated systems." That means "the main driver for not replacing them may be cost," he said.
"It is a North American problem," Vetter added. "In the E.U., BVO will never be permitted."
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.