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June 27, 2012


California State Legislators Hear from
Scientists, Firefighters, Businessmen, and Environmental Health Advocates:
Please Protect Us from Toxic Flame Retardants!

(Sacramento) Firefighters in uniform testified about the cancers among them they suspect of being triggered in part by toxic flame retardant chemicals. Scientists described hundreds of emerging studies demonstrating links to lower IQs in children, behavior and learning problems, infertility and cancer. Furniture makers said the chemicals are bad for business. All witnesses were testifying before the California Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials yesterday to ask protection from toxic flame retardant chemicals.

“At issue is an obsolete California regulation, TB117, that, de facto, forces toxic flame retardants into foam on products meant for sale in California,” explains Davis Baltz, Precautionary Principle Project Director with Commonweal. “At the hearing, Chief of the Bureau of Electronic Appliance Repair, Home Furnishing and Thermal Insulation. Tonya Blood, announced a new regulation, TB 1172012, that will address the issue of health hazards when dealing with fire safety.”

“As many as one out of every three firefighters may be diagnosed with cancer, and the evidence is overwhelming that they’re getting it on the job,” said Bryan Frieders, San Gabriel Battalion Chief speaking on behalf of the Firefighters Cancer Support Network. “I’m here to implore the Legislature and the governor to do what it takes to eliminate these toxins to protect not only the firefighters, but the citizens that we serve.”

“Given the heat at which modern structure fires burn, the flame retardants offer little, if any, additional fire protection,” said Lou Paulson, President, California Professional Firefighters, “But they do contribute to the toxic haze that is released in a fire. These inhalants are the major causes of fire deaths and injuries, and they’ve been linked to higher cancer rates among firefighters. It’s critical that California move quickly to eliminate these chemicals from products.”

“People of color are also more impacted by toxic flame retardant chemicals from many sources of exposure. We urge Chief Blood to waste no time in developing the new standard with a clear mandate that toxic flame retardant chemicals will not be allowed,” comments Martha Dina Arguello, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles.

Judy Levin, Pollution Prevention Director for Center for Environmental Health adds "The chemical industry has been playing a "toxic shell game "with our health substituting- one hazardous material with another chemicals that has not yet been restricted. We are heartened that Chief Blood is proposing a flammability standard based on modern science that can be met without the use of toxic chemicals."

We are not surprised that the flame retardant industry continued to do what they do best - mislead lawmakers about the questionable "benefits" of these toxics. However, the overwhelming evidence about the adverse health effects was powerfully presented by experts in today's hearing." commented Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of California.

Available for Interviews

Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director, marguello@psr-la.org, and Ana Mascareñas, Policy & Communications Coordinator, amascarenas@psr-la.org, Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles (PSR-LA); 213 689-9170. Martha and Ana can explain state policy efforts to stop halogenated flame retardants, and efforts by the chemical industry to mislead leaders from communities of color on the science and hazards of the chemicals. Ana was a witness at yesterday's hearing.

Arlene Blum Ph.D, Executive Director and Founder, Green Science Policy Institute Arlene@GreenSciencePolicy.org; 510 644-3164. Dr. Blum, a chemist, has been studying and working on halogenated flame retardant chemicals since the 1970s, when her research persuaded officials to remove chlorinated tris from children’s pajamas. She can describe global aspects of HFR contamination, as well as activities in the U.S. and California.

Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of California, holober@consumercal.org; 916 498-9608. Richard can address the dilemma California businesses and consumers have trying to make and buy safer products without halogenated flame retardant chemicals.

Sarah Janssen, MD, Ph.D, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, sjanssen@nrdc.org; 415 875 6126. Dr. Janssen can address health effects linked to exposure to flame retardant chemicals. Dr. Janssen attended yesterday's hearing.

Judy Levin, MSW, Pollution Prevention Co-Director, Center for Environmental Health, judy@cehca.org; 510 655-3900 x316, cell: 510 697-3947. Judy can discuss environmental health impacts to children and CEH efforts to change the CA regulation TB 117.

Andrew McGuire, Founder, Trauma Foundation, and Policy Advisor, Green Science Policy Institute, 415 821-8209. Andrew can address how the flame retardant corporations employ the same tactics used by the tobacco industry to defend tobacco, including attacking the science about the hazards of the chemicals. Andrew was a witness at yesterday's hearing.

Russell Long, Board Member, Friends of the Earth, russelllong@me.com; 415 302-4824. Russell can talk about the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s stance on standards involving flame retardants and also can address past legislative efforts in CA to restrict the chemicals.

Victoria Rome, Deputy Director of California Advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, vrome@nrdc.org; 415 875-6125. Victoria can discuss the policy of flame retardants in California.

Renee Sharp MS, California Director and Senior Scientist, Environmental Working Group. renee@ewg.org; 510 444-0973 x302, cell: 510 410-9196. Renee can address the health effects linked to flame retardant chemicals and their presence in the human body, dust, and wildlife.

Andria Ventura, Toxics Program Manager, Clean Water Action, aventura@cleanwater.org; 415 369-9166. Andria can address the emergence of flame retardants in our water resources and the difficulty in addressing the contamination.

Carroll Wills, Communications Director, California Professional Firefighters, 916 921-9111, cell 916 799-8148, cwills@cpf.org.

Info: http://toxicfreefiresafety.net/CaliforniansForToxicFreeFireSafety.php