Roundup: Flame Retardants Under Fire


It’s been quite a couple of years for toxic flame retardants, which are losing supporters left and right, as more and more people see these chemicals for what they often are: ineffective and detrimental to human health.

Sen. Schumer introduces flame retardant bill

In the latest flame retardant news, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer unveiled legislation that would ban the top ten noxious flame retardants from upholstered furniture and children’s products, such as changing table pads, portable crib mattresses, pajamas, nap mats and nursing pillows.  We applaud the senator’s leadership on this issue– banning these ten worst flame retardants will play an important part in protecting the public health.

The bill also calls for a scientific panel to evaluate the evidence linking these chemicals to chronic health issues like carcinogenicity, developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and more.

“It’s a nightmare scenario that is all too real: children are being exposed to highly toxic flame retardants- that can cause cancer and developmental delays – just by lying on a changing table and in their cribs, or even by sitting on the family couch. To boot, these carcinogenic chemicals found in foam are not effective in reducing fire risks,” Senator Schumer said in a statement.

We agree that children should not be exposed to these toxic substances, and Congress should move quickly to act on this critically important public health issue.

Big Chem loses court battle

Just a couple of weeks earlier, a California Superior Court judge threw out a legal challenge to the state’s new flammability standard, which is scheduled to take effect in January.  The new standard will stop forcing furniture manufacturers to use ineffective and toxic flame retardants, offering a two-fold benefit: modernizing fire safety and decreasing exposure to toxic substances.

But how do you know if your new couch has flame retardants?

In spite of Big Chem’s efforts to thwart progress, the new flammability standard will move forward. But, there’s one big loophole: Governor Jerry Brown’s momentous regulation TB118-2013, which dismantled the state’s open-flame standard, l doesn’t require manufacturers to tell consumers whether or not their products contain these chemicals. That’s where Califironia Sen. Mark Leno’s bill comes in. His bill, which is sitting on Gov. Brown’s desk where he is expected to sign it into law, requires disclosure of the use or absence of flame retardant chemicals on furniture labels. The Breast Cancer Fund has testified in favor of the bill in Sacramento and applauds Sen. Leno’s ongoing commitment to this issue in the face of unrelenting opposition from the chemical industry.

All of this flame retardant news could be especially applicable to firefighters who heroically enter fiery buildings and are exposed to burning flame retardants, which produce extremely hazardous smoke.  And as firefighters across the country face higher than average rates of cancer it’s imperative for us to remember the occupational hazards associated with these concerning chemicals.

           → Read On: Our last roundup of flame retardants under fire.


One thought on “Roundup: Flame Retardants Under Fire

  1. It seems only logical that since these chemicals are dangerous to the very people they were initiated to protect, it is time to get rid of them.
    Sen. Leno’s bill only states that chemicals used in household products should be on the label. Let the people choose whether or not to accept the use of dangerous chemicals. Why would the chemical companies not want people to know?

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