The Senate Environment and Energy Committee has heard testimony and discussed the risk of flame retardants during the past two weeks. Flame retardants are found in upholstered furniture and children’s products, but recent research shows they are ineffective, not needed, and no longer required by state regulators.
Flame-retardants migrate out of products into dust and into the human body. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified flame-retardants in the bodies of more than 90% of Americans. Children have higher levels of these chemicals in their bodies due to both dietary exposure and exposure through household dust.
Research has shown that exposure to certain types of halogenated flame-retardants (those made with chlorine or bromine) is associated with a numerous adverse health effects. Several of the flame-retardants are identified as carcinogens, and several are linked with adverse effects on reproduction.
Recent studies have found that firefighters are more likely to be afflicted with some forms of cancer, and that increased incidence may be due to chemical exposures on the job. There is evidence that firefighters have greater than average exposure to flame-retardants. Halogenated flame-retardants create highly toxic carcinogenic dioxins when they burn. The protective equipment firefighters use does not completely protect them from toxic exposures.
This legislation, called The Children and Firefighter Health Protection Act, puts prohibitions on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of children’s products, upholstered residential furniture, carpet and carpet pads, and mattresses that contain flame-retardant chemicals in amounts greater than 100 ppm. The bill will also require that replacement chemicals are safe, and will protect children and firefighters from the unnecessary and ineffective use of flame retardants in the home.
The bill was approved by the committee and forwarded to the Health, Human Services and Policy Committee. (S.F. 1215)