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Flame Retardant Makers Agree To Phase-out, Enforceable Bans Still Needed

Score one for children’s health and the environment today as the EPA announced a voluntary phase-out of the toxic flame retardant deca (BDE) by the only two U.S. deca manufacturers and the largest U.S. importer. While the voluntary agreement is important, enforceable bans on the chemical still must move forward in state legislatures and Congress to ensure a complete phase-out.

Under the voluntary agreement, the manufacturers agreed to stop producing, importing, and selling deca for most uses in the United States by 2012, and end all uses by 2013.

The agreement follows years of battles in state legislatures across the country, including Washington state, over banning the chemical. Under the leadership of Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48), Sen. Debbie Regala (D-27), Governor Gregoire, and the Department of Ecology, the state adopted one of the first deca bans in the nation in 2007. Manufacturers will still have to comply with Washington’s law for these products despite the voluntary agreement.

Also today Rep. Chellie Pindgree of Maine introduced legislation in Congress to phase out deca across the country. A federal ban on deca remains necessary to ensure the phase out takes place and that any replacement flame retardants do not harm health or the environment.

Deca has been linked to variety of health impacts, including developmental and reproductive problems and compromised immune systems. PBDEs have been found as a contaminant in breast milk, people, orca whales, and other wildlife.

Our press statement on the agreement is available here.