Olympia, WA – Doctors, nurses, children’s advocates, faith organizations and environmental groups are urging passage of state legislation to eliminate two cancer-causing flame retardants from children’s products.

The Toxic-Free Kids Act, sponsored by Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island) and Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle), addresses the rising concern over children’s exposure to Tris flame retardant chemicals currently being used in children’s products despite evidence they cause adverse health effects, including cancer and reproductive problems.

“Any of us, especially young parents, expect the products we buy for children to be safe. But we can’t be confident products are safe, particularly when too many babies’ car seats, nursing pillows and other items are infused with compounds that we know can damage their health. It’s time to take these toxics out of a child’s nursery and playroom,” said Sen. Nelson, the chair of the Senate Environment Committee.

“Putting chemicals that cause cancer in baby products makes no sense when safe alternatives are readily available,” said Rep. Dickerson.  “We wouldn’t dream of exposing children to insecticides unnecessarily, and the science shows that this particular flame retardant could easily be as dangerous or even more dangerous to young children than some insecticides.”

The legislation bans two commonly used flame retardants, TCEP and TDCPP, in products intended for children under 12. The ban would take effect July 1, 2014. A recent study of baby products found the following products contained TCEP or TDCPP: nursing pillows, car eats, portable cribs, changing table pads, car seats, and sleep positioners.

TDCPP was voluntarily removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s when it was found to cause adverse health effects. However, product manufacturers started using the chemical in foam products after chemical makers stopped producing another group of toxic flame retardants, called PBDEs, as a result of laws banning the chemicals in 11 states, including Washington.

The proposed bill will help manufacturers avoid switching to equally toxic chemicals by requiring makers of children’s products who use the following toxic chemicals: Tris flame retardants, formaldehyde, bisphenol A (BPA), or antimony, to determine whether their products can be made with safer chemicals or materials.

“We’ve been duped. Instead of switching to safer chemicals when the legislature banned one group of toxic flame retardants, manufacturers took the cheapest way out without considering children’s health,” said Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, campaign director for the Washington Toxics Coalition. “The Toxic-Free Kids Act will eliminate a serious health threat to kids and get us off the toxic treadmill of switching from one bad chemical to another.”

Research shows Tris flame retardant chemicals are released from products and contaminate household dust. Dust is easily ingested once it lands on food, clothing, and other surfaces. Researchers have found the chemicals in house dust, indoor air, waterways, and breast milk.

Many health and environmental groups concerned about children’s exposure to toxic chemicals have endorsed the legislation. Washington’s Environmental Priorities Coalition, a coalition of 24 leading state environmental groups, has made the bill one of three environmental priorities for the 2012 session.

“This environmental community priority builds upon past victories in the Legislature to eliminate harmful toxins in the environment and our families. We fully expect that this legislation will be well received in Olympia and we look forward to working with the Legislature to ensure its passage,” said State Lobbyist Clifford Traisman.

“The Washington State Nurses Association supports this bill because it is health protective and preventive. It just makes sense,” said Karen Bowman, environmental health specialist for the Washington State Nurses Association. “We don’t need toxic chemicals in children’s products that cause cancers, learning disabilities, asthma, obesity, reproductive and endocrine problems.“

“Part of our commitment as people of faith is to protect those who are most vulnerable in our communities. Insuring that the chemicals used in children’s products are non-toxic and the safest available is more than a good idea.  It is an obvious responsibility of the State of Washington, has no cost to citizens, and safeguards those who most need our care. We expect all our legislators of all faiths to give this bill bi-partisan support on behalf of the littlest of God’s children,” said Jessie Dye, program and outreach director for Earth Ministry.

“We need the Toxic Free Kids Act to protect our children from harmful Tris flame retardants, which are known to have negative impacts on our kids’ health and reproductive development.  Planned Parenthood is proud to stand in support of this bill to help ensure today’s kids can have healthy families of their own in the future,” said Elaine Rose, CEO- Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest.

Non-chemical alternatives to flame retardants are available. Major companies including Boppy, BabyBjorn, and Orbit baby products do not use Tris flame retardants in their products.

If the bill passes this session, Washington state would be the second state in the nation to ban TCEP and would be the first to ban TDCPP. New York banned TCEP in baby products earlier this year. Both Maine and California have passed laws requiring manufacturers to identify safer alternatives for certain harmful chemicals used in products.

Please contact Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, 206-854-7623, for more information or to arrange interviews.

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