Children at Risk from Everyday Products - Coalition Petitions Government to Act

Apr 01, 2015, 07:00 ET from Green Science Policy Institute

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- On March 31, 2015 the Green Science Policy Institute and a coalition including firefighters, pediatricians and consumer groups petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ban certain household products if they contain any members of the toxic class of organohalogen flame retardants.

Given the weakness of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), household items can contain some of the most toxic chemicals in use today.

"For decades, regulators have been playing a dangerous game of toxic whack-a-mole: banning a harmful chemical only to have it replaced with a chemical cousin that turns out just as problematic," said Dr. Arlene Blum, Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. Based on extensive scientific research, the petition aims to set a legal and policy precedent for regulating the most harmful classes of chemicals.

Despite being associated with cancer, infertility, reduced IQ, learning deficits, and hormone disruption, organohalogen flame retardants are still used in consumer products. They are found in the bodies of 97% of US residents, with young children having three to five times higher levels than their parents. 

"Children's developing brains and reproductive organs are most vulnerable to toxic flame retardants," according to Dr. Simona Balan, Senior Scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute. "Children should not have to play on flame-retarded couches, sleep on flame-retarded mattresses, or handle electronics with flame retardants in their cases, because these chemicals can migrate out of consumer products into dust, which children then touch and ingest."

The petition asks the CPSC to ban four product categories (children's products, furniture, mattresses, and electronics casings) if they contain any organohalogen flame retardants. The petition is supported by a diverse coalition: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Women's Association, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Green Science Policy Institute, International Association of Fire Fighters, Kids in Danger, League of United Latin American Citizens, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Hispanic Medical Association, Philip J. Landrigan M.D., and Worksafe. Legal counsel was provided by Earthjustice and Consumer Federation of America.

The stakes are high, as Dr. Blum points out: "In most cases, organohalogen flame retardants provide no fire safety benefit, and there are safer alternatives. By phasing out the entire class of organohalogen flame retardants in these four kinds of consumer products, we can all be healthier."


SOURCE Green Science Policy Institute