Olympia, WA – The Washington State House of Representatives passed a ban on toxic flame retardants in home furniture and children’s products tonight with a bipartisan vote of 95-3. The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act (2SHB 1174), sponsored by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim) and Rep. David Taylor (R-Moxee), would reduce children’s and firefighters’ exposure to harmful flame retardants by prohibiting their use in children’s products and furniture. The bill would also provide the Department of Ecology with the ability to ban additional cancer-causing and other harmful chemicals from being used as flame retardants provided safer alternatives are available.
“We thank the House for once again showing that eliminating the most harmful flame retardants from our children’s products and home furniture is not a partisan issue,” said Laurie Valeriano, executive director of the Washington Toxics Coalition. “These toxic chemicals have no place in our homes. Now it’s time for the Senate to take action. We hope for the Senate, the third time’s a charm.”
“With the House’s vote today, firefighters are a step closer to fewer risks of rare cancers that can be caused by exposure to toxic flame retardants. We hope the Senate will do the same,” said Kelly Fox, president of the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.
Toxic flame retardants have long raised concerns among firefighters, scientists, medical professionals, and health advocates because of studies showing the chemicals are linked to serious health problems, including cancer and hormone problems; evidence people are exposed to the chemicals in their homes and firefighters are exposed when fighting fires; and the availability of safer alternatives.
“Nurses are very pleased to see the passage of HB1174 and thank the House of Representatives for a swift vote once again. The Toxic-Free Kids Families Act is a common sense approach to protecting our most vulnerable populations. We ask the Senate to support this health protective bill so we can all breathe easier,” said Karen Bowman, environmental health specialist with the Washington State Nurses Association.
“As a pediatrician, I am gratified that Washington’s legislators made the health and well-being of children a priority by passing the Toxic-Free Kids & Families Act. This is an important step toward keeping our state’s children free from harmful chemicals,” said Lelach Rave, pediatrician and trustee with the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Every child should be allowed to develop to their full natural potential and these harmful flame retardants are proven to reduce that potential,” said Diane Stadden with The Arc of Washington State. “We fully support giving children their right to develop and grow to become the person they were meant to be by removing harmful chemicals that cause harm to these developing minds and bodies.”
Advocates especially want to thank Reps. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim), David Taylor (R-Moxee), Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien), Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) and Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley).
Despite bipartisan support of the bill in the House the past two years, it has stalled in the Senate.
Advocates say recent announcements by the nation’s top furniture retailers, including Ashley Furniture, that they will stop using toxic flame retardants in their products and Ecology’s recent report to the Legislature recommending a ban on the use of certain toxic flame retardants in kids’ products and furniture are reasons the State Senate should pass the bill.
The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act (2SHB 1174) will:
- Ban five harmful flame retardants that have been designated by the state as Chemicals of High Concern for Children.
- Give the state toxics control agency the ability to ban cancer-causing and other harmful chemicals from being used as flame retardants.
- Ensure that safer and effective alternatives are available.
- Allow the public access to information from manufacturers on the toxic flame retardants in their products.