On the heels of a Chicago Tribune investigation revealing deception from the chemical industry and the eve of a scheduled June 26 legislative hearing on the subject, California Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement yesterday directing state agencies to revise flammability standards for upholstered furniture sold in the state.
Evidence that the flame retardants required by California’s 40-year-old TB 117 flammability standard cause harm has been piling up:
• A 2008 Environmental Working Group study found that toddlers have three times the level of flame retardant chemicals in their bodies as their parents do. California toddlers carry some of the highest levels in the nation.
• Scientists at Cal/EPA found in a peer-reviewed study that California women have higher levels of flame retardants in their breast tissue than women in other states and countries.
• UC Berkeley researchers found significant associations between flame retardant levels in California women and reduced fertility, which they believe is due to alterations in thyroid hormone levels caused by the chemicals.
• A study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that firefighters – who work with and inhale these chemicals regularly – have elevated rates of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and brain cancer.
Brown has asked the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation to review the standard and recommend changes that would ensure fire safety while reducing toxic flame retardants – which are currently found in everything from high chairs to couches. “We must find better ways to meet fire safety standards by reducing and eliminating – wherever possible – dangerous chemicals,” Brown said in a statement. The process to do so will include workshops, administrative review and a chance for public comment.
“Research links many of these flame retardant chemicals to lower IQs and hyperactivity in children, and also to reproductive problems and endocrine disruption,” said Sarah Janssen, M.D., MPH, of UC San Francisco and the Natural Resources Defense Council in response to the news. “The entire world is watching California to see if we will act to prevent continuing global contamination from chemicals used to meet TB 117.”
Tags: flame retardants