New Rules Meant To Reduce Use of Chemicals Linked to Health Risks
On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) proposed new rules meant to reduce the use of flame retardant chemicals that experts say create health risks, the Los Angeles Times reports (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 2/8).
A UC-Berkeley study published in November 2012 analyzed the effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, a class of chemicals that previously was used widely in furniture sold in California.
It found that the flame retardants are linked to lower IQs and poorer coordination in California children. The chemicals were phased out in 2004 because of concerns that they were toxic. However, Brenda Eskanazi -- professor of maternal and child health at UC-Berkeley and lead author of the study -- said that PBDEs still are present in older household products (California Healthline, 11/20/12).
Russ Heimerich, a state spokesperson, said that furniture manufacturers still use some chemical flame retardants associated with health risks toÂ comply withÂ regulations stipulating that upholstered products sold in California must not ignite when the foam inside the cushion is exposed to an open flame for 12 seconds.
Findings by the California Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations show that toddlers and nursing mothers had higher levels of flame-retardant chemicals in their bodies than those who were not exposed to upholstery treated with the chemical flame retardants.
Details of New Rules
The new rules would allow upholstered furniture to meet state standards if the foam does not ignite when it comes in contact with a lit cigarette. Heimerich said the test can be passed without using chemical flame retardants.
The rules would exempt certain infant productsÂ from the flammability standard, including:
- Booster seats;
- Car seats;
- Changing pads;
- High-chair pads; and
- Infant mattresses.
Opposition to New Rules
In a statement responding to the new rules, the North American Flame Retardant Alliance said, "Regrettably, if this proposed regulation moves forward, it will reverse a fire safety standard that has provided an important layer of protection to Californians forÂ over 35 years."The alliance said it plans to fight the proposed rules during a 45-day comment period (Los Angeles Times, 2/8). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.