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June 27, 2012

Parents, Scientists, Physicians, & Health Advocates Tell Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):
Stop Toxic Flame Retardants Now!

CPSC can halt chemical exposure by adopting draft standard

(Washington, DC) Over 40 organizations representing tens of thousands of parents, consumers, scientists, and health and environmental justice advocates delivered a strong letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission today urging Chairperson Inez Tenenbaum to quickly finalize rules for furniture flammability that will stop the use of millions of pounds of unnecessary toxic flame retardants commonly put in foam for couches, chairs, and other furniture,  including baby products.

Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, senior scientist with Natural Resources Defense Council says, “Flame retardant chemicals present the worst of two possible worlds. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer and other serious health risks, and they are ineffective in protecting people from fires. We need a national standard that improves fire safety and ensures that our homes are free of toxic chemicals. The draft CPSC flammability standard will do just that – it is time for that standard to be finalized.”

Since 2008, the CPSC has been working on a draft furniture flammability standard that would stop fires from starting in furniture fabric.

Toxic flame retardants are linked to a variety of health impacts,  including reduced IQ in children, thyroid problems, endocrine disruption, and cancer.

"With this new standard CPSC will prevent the use of untested and toxic chemicals in the foam inside furniture and protect our health and environment," said Arlene Blum Ph.D of the Green Science Policy Institute.  "We need the CPSC to enact this standard as soon as possible so we can buy furniture and baby products that are both fire resistant and toxics free."

"CPSC's research has shown that the current practice of loading up the foam in home furniture with toxic flame retardants does not make the products more resistant to fire. Agency action to set sensible standards for flammability of home furniture will have a very real and positive health impact, as makers of furniture will be able to make their products fire-safe without large quantities of toxic flame retardants,” says Erika Schreder, Science Director for the Washington Toxics Coalition in Seattle, Washington.

“Let this be a wake up call to the CPSC to not bow to politicial pressure, but rather to use their own science to finalize this health based standard that applies to the entire nation,” comments Kathy Curtis, LPN,  Executive Director for A Clean & Healthy New York and National Coordinator for Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety.

Last Monday, California’s Governor Jerry Brown announced he would make stopping toxic chemical flame retardants a priority.  The Governor made his announcement on the heels of a Chicago Tribune investigation that revealed deceptive testimony by the flame retardant corporations to state legislatures. Environmental health advocates in California have asked the state to adopt the same standard developed by the CPSC. California currently has an obsolete regulation that, de facto, forces the chemicals into products with foam for sale in the state. Yesterday, California Bureau of Electronic Appliance Repair, Home Furnishing and Thermal Insulation Chief. Tonya Blood, announced that they are proposing a new regulation, TB 1172012, that will address the issue of health hazards when dealing with fire safety.

Several other states had legislative efforts to restrict some of the chemicals, including chlorinated tris (TDCPP), from being used to meet the standard. Washington state failed to adopt a ban on TDCPP but is currently considering a petition from advocates that would require disclosure of its use in children’s products. New York is currently considering a bill to ban TDCPP in children’s products.

“Toxic flame retardants are bad for communities of color," said Richard Moore, Coordinator of the Los Jardines Institute (The Gardens Institute). "Our young people have some of the highest levels in their bodies and they do nothing to prevent fires in our homes.  We need more investment in neighborhood fire houses to protect us from fires and stronger regulations on toxic chemicals like flame retardants to protect our health. The CPSC can do its part by adopting this standard."

For more information: www.toxicfreefiresafety.org

Available for Interviews
(For media assistance, contact Stephenie Hendricks 415.258.9151 stephdh@earthlink.net)

Arlene Blum PhD, co-author of study, Executive Director and Founder, Green Science Policy Institute 510.644.3164, Arlene@GreenSciencePolicy.org.Dr. Blum, a chemist, has been studying and working on halogenated flame retardant chemicals since the 1970's, when her research persuaded officials to remove chlorinated tris from children's pajamas. She can address global aspects of HFR contamination, as well as efforts in the U.S. and California.

Kathy Curtis, LPN Coordinator for the Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety, 518.708.3922. clean.kathy@gmail.com. Ms. Curtis can explain why failure with federal chemical regulation has contributed to the halogenated flame retardant chemical problem, and how states are stepping up across the nation to restrict the chemicals.

Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, 415.875.6126, sjanssen@nrdc.org. Dr. Janssen can address health effects linked to flame retardant chemicals exposure.

Richard Moore, Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, NM, 505.301.0276, ljinewmexico@gmail.com. Richard can talk about environmental justice issues and flame retardants.

Erika Schreder, staff scientist, Washington Toxics Coalition,  206.632.1545, ext 119, eschreder@watoxics.org.