Contact: Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, ivy@toxicfreefuture, 206-632-1545 ext 113

Attention Reporters and Editors: Video and images of nap mat testing available here.

(Seattle, WA) – Removing chemical flame retardants from foam nap mats in childcare centers can lower levels of the chemicals in dust by as much as 90%, a new peer-reviewed study has found. The study, appearing in Environmental Pollution today, is the first time researchers have shown that eliminating a single source of flame retardants—nap mats—can significantly reduce children’s exposure to hazardous chemicals that are linked to cancer, obesity, and nervous system harm. Continue reading 

firefighter and child drinking water

(Olympia, WA) – Today Governor Jay Inslee signed a new law restricting the use of firefighting foam containing harmful perfluorinated chemicals. Firefighting foam used at firefighting training facilities, airports, and military bases is one of the top reasons drinking water in several Washington state communities, as well as in states across the country, is contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals. Washington is the first state to place restrictions on firefighting foam. Continue reading 

(Olympia, WA) Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the Healthy Food Packaging Act today, making Washington the first state in the nation to ban the use of harmful nonstick “PFAS” chemicals in paper food packaging, including in microwave popcorn bags and fast food and cupcake wrappers. The legislation, HB 2658, was sponsored by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland) and received bipartisan votes in both the House and Senate.  Continue reading 

(Olympia, WA) – Last night, the Washington State Senate voted 30-17 to ban the use of paper food packaging products containing the harmful class of nonstick chemicals called “PFASs”. The bill, ESHB 2658, was sponsored by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Redmond). The bill has already passed the House, and now goes to Governor Inslee for signature. If the Governor signs the bill, Washington will be the first state in the nation to ban PFASs in food packaging. Continue reading 

Contact: Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, ivy@toxicfreefuture.org, 206-632-1545 ext 113

(Olympia, WA) – Last night, the Washington State House of Representatives voted 72-26 to ban the sale of firefighting foam containing the harmful class of nonstick chemicals called “PFASs”. The legislation, ESSB 6413, also bans the use of the foam in fire training exercises and requires firefighters to be notified when these chemicals are used in the protective clothing firefighters wear. The bill already passed the Senate on a vote of 38-9. Continue reading 

UPDATE: The Washington State Legislature has passed bills to ban PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam and food packaging. More information.

Release Date: February 14, 2018

Contact: Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, ivy@toxicfreefuture.org, 206-854-7623

 

(Olympia, WA) – The Washington State Legislature has advanced two bills that would ban sources of the harmful class of nonstick chemicals called PFASs. If Washington state’s bills become law, Washington would be the first state to restrict the use of PFASs in food packaging and some firefighting foams.

Used in a wide variety of nonstick, stain-resistant and waterproof products, the industrial class of chemicals – including newer versions of the chemicals that are now manufactured by the chemical industry- are showing up in drinking water, food, humans, breast milk, and the environment in Washington and many other states across the country. PFAS-containing firefighting foam specifically has contaminated drinking water for millions of Americans, including in Washington state in Coupeville, Issaquah, and Airway Heights.

PFASs are linked to cancer, liver toxicity, and other health effects, are extremely persistent, and can stay in the human body for as long as 8 years.

Washington’s legislative session ends in less than one month on March 9th.

“Washington state is taking the right approach to getting these harmful chemicals out of our drinking water, food, and environment. These industrial chemicals present an immediate threat to health and the environment,” said Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future. “These bills will prevent future contamination, health problems, and huge clean up bills for taxpayers.”

Specifically, the bills moving through the Washington State Legislature are:

House Bill 2658 – Healthy Food Packaging Act, sponsored by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland)

  • This bill has already passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 56-41.
  • It would ban the sale of paper food packaging treated with PFAS chemicals, including microwave popcorn bags, muffin and fast food wrappers, bakery bags, and butter wrappers in favor of safer alternatives.
  • Research shows food packaging is a source of human exposure to nonstick chemicals when the chemicals move into food that comes into contact with the packaging.
  • Studies show that when the food packages are landfilled or composted, the chemicals can contaminate soil, crops, water, and wildlife.
  • A recent study found 100% of microwave popcorn bags likely contained PFASs. (Results available at toxicfreefuture.org/popcornandpizza)

In a 2016 study of over 300 food packaging materials, nearly 40% were treated with fluorine and likely contained PFAS.

SB 6413 – Safer Firefighting Foam, Gear, and Drinking Water, sponsored by Senator Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim)

  • This bill has already passed the Senate on a vote of 38-9.
  • It would prohibit the sale of PFAS containing firefighting foams unless the use for which it is intended is required by federal law or if the user can demonstrate there is no effective alternative.
  • The bill also requires anyone selling firefighting gear coated with PFAS chemicals to notify the buyer.
  • Firefighters are exposed to the foam during use. Cancer is now the leading cause of line of duty deaths for fire fighters.
  • Safer alternatives to the foam are already in use, including at some fire stations in Washington state.

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The House Environment Committee will hold hearings on two bills to eliminate sources of the harmful class of nonstick chemicals called PFASs at 1:30pm, Tuesday, January 23rd, in Hearing Room B of the John L. O’Brien at the State Capitol in Olympia.

PFASs are industrial chemicals used in nonstick coatings on food packaging like microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers, in stain-resistant and waterproof coatings on carpeting, furniture, and clothing, and in some firefighting foams and firefighting gear.

PFASs are showing up in the state’s drinking water, food, bodies, and environment, including lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound. Linked to cancer, liver toxicity, and other health effects, the chemicals are extremely persistent and can stay in the human body for as long as 8 years. Washington state is developing a phase out plan for the chemicals.

HB 2658 – Healthy Food Packaging Act, sponsored by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland)

  • This bill would ban the sale of food packaging treated with PFAS chemicals, including microwave popcorn bags, muffin and fast food wrappers, bakery bags, and butter wrappers in favor of safer alternatives.
  • Research shows food packaging is a source of human exposure to nonstick chemicals when the chemicals move into food that comes into contact with the packaging.
  • Studies show the chemicals in food packaging get into soil, crops, water, and wildlife when the food packages are composted.
  • A recent study found 100% of microwave popcorn bags likely contained PFASs.
  • In a 2016 study of over 300 food packaging materials, nearly 40% were treated with fluorine and likely contained PFASs.

HB 2793 – Safer Firefighting Foam, Gear, and Drinking Water, sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds)

  • This bill would prohibit the use of PFAS containing firefighting foams where its use is not required by federal law and require anyone selling firefighting gear coated with PFAS chemicals to notify the buyer.
  • PFAS-containing firefighting foam has contaminated drinking water across the country, including in Washington state in Coupeville, Issaquah, and Airway Heights.
  • Firefighters are exposed to the foam during use.
  • Cancer is now the leading cause of line of duty deaths for fire fighters. They are more likely than other workers to be afflicted with some forms of cancer, and that increased incidence may be due to chemical exposures on the job.
  • Safer alternatives to the foam are already in use.

Those presenting testimony will include:

  • Erika Schreder, Science Director, Toxic-Free Future
  • Cheri Peele, Senior Research Associate, Clean Production Action
  • Dr. Elizabeth Friedman, Senior Fellow, NW Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, University of Washington
  • Katie Pelch, Senior Scientist, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange
  • Dr. Steve Swanson, resident of Coupeville whose drinking water is contaminated with PFASs
  • Mike White, Legislative Liaison, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters
  • Heather Trim, Executive Director, Zero Waste Washington

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Who's minding the store when it comes to toxic chemicals

Seattle, WA – Just in time for the holiday shopping season, today the Mind the Store campaign released its second annual report card on toxic chemicals in consumer products, which found that one-third of 30 major U.S. retailers are leaders, but two-thirds remain serious laggards. The report, Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals, includes evaluations of nineteen retailers for the first time. Seattle-based retailer Costco improved its grade from last year to a C-. Seattle-based Amazon received a D-. Overall, eleven retailers evaluated in both 2016 and 2017 have showed substantial improvements in the past year, raising their grade from an average of D+ to C. Seven of these eleven retailers announced significant improvements over the last year alone by releasing new safer chemicals policies or initiatives: Albertsons, Best Buy, Costco, CVS Health, The Home Depot, Target, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director with Toxic-Free Future said, “We are pleased Costco announced a chemical policy and other actions to improve its grade from last year. With growing concern about the health impacts of dangerous chemicals, consumers want to assurances that items in their shopping cart won’t harm their family. It is critical that Amazon, with its importance in the retail sector, is working towards a safer chemicals policy. We hope that Amazon will announce a robust chemical policy and approach that propels them ahead of the competition.”

Apple, Wal-Mart Stores, CVS Health, IKEA, Whole Foods Market, and Target received the highest grades, scoring a B+ or above. These companies are setting the pace for the entire retail sector by making meaningful progress toward safer chemicals in products. Meanwhile the report reveals that some retailers like Amazon,Walgreens, and Staples are developing chemicals policies. Walgreens and Staples plan to launch their chemicals policies in 2018.

However, 70% of the retailers evaluated remain serious laggards, earning D’s and F’s, for failing to publicly announce basic safer chemical policies to ensure the chemical safety of their products and supply chain. Nine retailers received a failing grade of “F”: Ace Hardware, grocery chain owner Ahold Delhaize, Dollar General, Kohl’s, Office Depot, Sally Beauty, TJX, Toys”R”Us / Babies”R”Us, and Trader Joe’s. All of these, except for Toys”R”Us / Babies”R”Us, received 0 out of 135 possible points.

The report also found that, over the past three years, at least a dozen retailers achieved significant reductions or elimination of dangerous chemicals in the products they carry, far ahead of any government-imposed restrictions. Unfortunately, nearly one-half of the 30 retailers evaluated have not publicly reported any progress in reducing or eliminating chemicals of concern over the past three years.

For a full list of the retailers with their letter and corresponding number grades along with the methodology used, please go to: RetailerReportCard.com. This new, interactive website enables users to view and sort retailers by their grades and consumer product sector. Consumers can also use the report website to email and “Tweet” to companies, urging them to improve.

Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and report co-author said, “We are thrilled that major retailers like Walmart, CVS Health, and Target are driving a race to the top to eliminate dangerous chemicals that threaten our families’ health. At the same time, far too many are lagging behind, failing to meet the rising consumer demand for healthy products. This holiday season, retailers should give us the gift of a toxic-free future.”

Mike Belliveau, co-author of the report and Executive Director of Environmental Health Strategy Center, said “Retailers remain on the frontline of consumer discontent with the chemical safety of everyday products. The good news is that some are making the grade, but too many are failing to take the most basic public steps to eliminate dangerous chemicals from the products they buy and sell.”

Jose Bravo, Coordinator of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, said “It’s disappointing to see the nation’s largest dollar store chains got low or failing grades on hazardous chemicals in their products, but it probably isn’t surprising to many people. When consumers start to expect your products to be dangerous it should serve as a wake-up call that more is needed. It’s time for Dollar General and Dollar Tree to join other major retailers and enact broad corporate policies to protect their shoppers’ families from toxic chemicals, especially because many dollar store shoppers can’t always afford to make safer choices.”

To evaluate retailers’ policies, the Mind the Store campaign, the Getting Ready for Baby campaign, and the Campaign for Healthier Solutions collected and reviewed publicly available information about corporate safer chemicals programs, and shared draft findings with retailers to provide them an opportunity to review the conclusions, disclose additional information, and make new public commitments towards safer chemicals.

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Seattle, WA – A new study by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) shows that perfluorinated chemicals used in many household products are making their way into Washington’s lakes and rivers. The study tested waterbodies and the effluent from wastewater treatment plants for perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS). The results demonstrate that new-generation PFAS chemicals are traveling from homes, through wastewater, and now dominate surface water discharges from municipal treatment plants.

Ecology’s study is available online: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/SummaryPages/1703021.html

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFASs) are extraordinarily persistent, not known to degrade in the environment, and linked to cancer and reproductive problems. They are used in common products, including food packaging and stain and water resistant coatings on carpets, clothing and furniture, as well as some firefighting foams. In a national survey by the Centers for Disease Control, researchers found PFASs in the bodies of 95% of Americans tested. While older generation PFAS compounds have been phased out due to health concerns, newer, highly similar compounds have largely taken their place.

“The new study shows that the chemical industry’s switch to newer PFASs has failed to stop these chemicals from contaminating our environment. These chemicals are now widespread in lakes and rivers. There is a need for an urgent phaseout of these compounds to prevent further contamination of the environment and people,” said Erika Schreder, Science Director with Toxic-Free Future and a member of the state’s PFAS Chemical Action Plan Advisory Committee.

PFAS chemicals have also been detected in the drinking water of several Washington communities at levels that make the water unsafe to drink. In response, the Washington State Board of Health recently voted to develop drinking water standards for PFAS chemicals.

Ecology and the Department of Health are currently developing a state chemical action plan for PFAS chemicals. The plan will recommend measures for reducing sources and exposures of PFAS chemicals. The PFAS Chemical Action Plan Advisory Committee will meet next Wednesday, November 1st at Ecology’s Northwest Regional Headquarters in Bellevue, WA from 9-4.

Seattle, WA – Companies making kids’ products are now required to publicly disclose the presence of 20 additional chemicals in their products under new requirements published by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) yesterday. The new requirements significantly expand the existing reporting list of 66 chemicals of high concern for children’s health to include many more flame retardants, several additional phthalates, the stain-proofing chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and substances that breakdown into PFOA. This is the largest number of chemicals required to be reported in children’s products in the country.

Kids’ products covered under the rule include toys, personal care products, and clothing. Ecology issued the new requirements as part of an update to the state’s landmark Children’s Safe Products Act rule. 

The 20 new chemicals of high concern for kids’ health that companies must now publicly disclose include:

  • Thirteen flame retardant chemicals, including flame retardants classified as organohalogens. Last week the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning to manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to avoid making, selling, or using certain products, including kids’ products, that contain organohalogens, due to health concerns. The CPSC also recently voted to initiate a process to ban organohalogen use in kids’ products, electronics, and other consumer products. 
  • Four phthalate chemicals. Phthalates are linked to a variety of health concerns, including hormone disruption and fertility problems. Eight phthalate chemicals were already included in the list.  
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), used in stain-proofing and waterproofing applications. Ecology also included substances that breakdown into PFOA, which is linked to cancer and other health effects.
  • Two chemicals – bisphenol S and bisphenol F – often used as a replacement in hard plastic for bisphenol A (BPA). BPA was banned in baby bottles, sippy cups, and sports bottles in Washington state in 2010.

Full text of the rule update can be found at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/hwtr/laws_rules/CSP_ReportingRule/1608docs.html

“We applaud Ecology’s action that will uncover dangerous chemicals that can be lurking in children’s products,” said Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future. “There are too many secrets when it comes to chemicals used in everyday products. This rule requires companies to come clean on what they are using in products our kids put in their mouths and wear. We also need real protections that will end the use of harmful chemicals in our homes once and for all.”

“These chemicals are no-brainer bad chemicals for kids,” said Karen Bowman, environmental health specialist with the Washington State Nurses Association. “The chemical industry can no longer hide their toxic chemicals in children’s products in Washington state. Once we know what the chemicals are used in we can take action to protect kids and all consumers.”

Ecology removed three chemicals from the existing reporting list, including the chemical D4 (octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane). Advocates wanted the chemical to remain on the list, citing over 2000 program reports of its use in kids’ products, including footwear, bibs, baby changing mats, teethers, and pacifiers.

Since the chemicals reporting began in 2012, companies have filed over 55,000 reports of chemicals of high concern for children in kids’ products sold in the state. The most recent chemical reports filed by makers of kids’ products show toxic chemical use remains widespread, and some companies report levels of chemicals that appear to violate state law. 

  • Komar Kids reported levels of the hormone-disrupting phthalate DINP in undershirts, chemises, and camisoles well above the state’s 1000 parts per million (ppm) limit. The company reported DINP at over 10,000 ppm.
  • American Greetings Corp. reported using cancer-causing cadmium in its dolls and soft toys at between 100-500 ppm. Current state law allows only 40 ppm.

Other notable reports include: 

  • Exxcel Outdoors LLC reported using the flame retardants TDCPP at over 10,000 ppm and TCEP between 1,000 and 5,000 ppm in outdoor play structures sold in 2016. These levels exceed new state standards that went into effect July 1, 2017. Kids’ products with those levels sold after this date would violate state law.
  • MGA Entertainment and Little Tikes reported an infant toy containing methylene chloride, a cancer-causing chemical that the USEPA has proposed be banned in paint stripper. The company reported that levels of the chemical in the toy are between 5000 ppm and 10000 ppm. The information available doesn’t indicate the specific toy contains this chemical.

A searchable database of chemical use reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology is available at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/cspa/search.html.

Washington, DC – The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today published a warning to consumers, especially pregnant women and young children, to avoid kids’ products, electronics, mattresses, and home furniture that contain certain flame retardant chemicals, known as organohalogens. The CPSC is also calling on manufacturers to eliminate this toxic class of chemicals in these products, and for retailers to obtain assurances from suppliers that products don’t contain organohalogens. The warning comes one week after the agency voted to move forward with a rulemaking to ban the chemicals in these products.

“We applaud the CPSC’s action today to warn consumers about these harmful chemicals while the agency moves forward with a ban,” said Eve Gartner, Earthjustice co-counsel. “Consumers can’t shop their way out of the problem, which is why a ban is needed. Today’s warning is a good interim step.”

“The warning issued today by the CPSC will help protect consumers from chemicals that pose a serious health threat,” said Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel at Consumer Federation of America and co-counsel on the petition. “However, until these chemicals are banned, consumers still need to be cautious and shop with care.”

Organohalogen chemicals have been associated with serious human health problems, including cancer, increased time to pregnancy, decreased IQ in children, impaired memory, learning deficits, hyperactivity, hormone disruption and lowered immunity.

The complete text of the CPSC’s guidance can be found on the CPSC website.

Experts caution, however, that it is impossible for consumers to know for sure if products they buy are free of organohalogen flame retardants because in most cases manufacturers aren’t required to disclose their use of the chemicals.

Recent testing of TVs found 11 of 12 TVs tested contained flame retardant chemicals, some in concentrations as high as 33%. Testing results are available at http://www.toxicfreefuture.org/flame-retardants-tvs

“Products containing organohalogen flame retardants are a source of health risk to our families,” said Erika Schreder, primary author of the study and Science Director for Toxic-Free Future. “The CPSC is right to warn consumers, especially those most vulnerable to exposure, to avoid products containing these harmful flame retardants. The chemicals can leach out of the products and contaminate our homes, exposing our families.”

Reports filed by makers of kids’ products with the state of Washington show widespread presence of flame retardants in kids’ products. In the last six months, manufacturers filed over 400 reports of kids’ products containing flame retardants, including in toys, games, art supplies, and clothing and other textiles.

“Parents should be able to buy products for their kids without worrying they contain toxic flame retardants. While consumers wait for the CPSC rulemaking to proceed, states must continue to adopt policies to restrict the use of these chemicals,” said Sarah Doll, National Director of Safer States.

“The CPSC’s new guidance should be a wake up call for retailers across the country,” said Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director for Safer Chemicals Healthy Families. “Big retailers like Best Buy and Costco should heed the CPSC’s guidance and require suppliers to stop adding toxic flame retardants to electronics, children’s and infant products and others as soon as possible.  Retailers can play an important role in following the CPSC’s guidance by ensuring the products they sell are free of these unnecessary dangerous chemicals.”

Environmental health experts offer these tips for consumers when shopping for organohalogen-free products:

  1. Check furniture labels. When shopping for furniture, consumers should CHOOSE furniture labeled “CONTAINS NO ADDED FLAME RETARDANTS.”
  2. Check kids’ product labels. Make sure any children’s products you or your childcare provider use are not labeled as meeting the California TB 117 flammability standard (these products likely contain flame retardants in the foam).
  3. Avoid kids’ products made with polyurethane foam.
  4. Dust and wash hands regularly. To reduce exposure from products in your home, cleanliness counts! Wash hands, especially those of young children, often, to keep dust from attaching to food or fingers and being consumed. Regularly wet dust and wet mop to reduce dust, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

The CPSC’s action results from a Petition submitted in June 2015 by the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice and Consumer Federation of America on behalf of:  American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Women’s Association, Consumers Union, Green Science Policy Institute, International Association of Fire Fighters, Kids In Danger, Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, League of United Latin American Citizens, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Hispanic Medical Association, and Worksafe.

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Seattle, WA – A new study released today finds TVs could be bad for your health in an unexpected way: TVs contain toxic flame retardant chemicals that can contaminate homes. The new testing by Toxic-Free Future and Clean Production Action found that TV manufacturers continue to use toxic flame retardant chemicals in their products despite evidence the chemicals are harmful to health. Two TVs were found to contain the banned chemical flame retardant deca-BDE in apparent violation of Washington state law.

This new information comes on the day the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission will decide whether to grant a petition to ban certain toxic flame retardants in several classes of consumer products, including electronics. Experts are concerned about the flame retardant chemicals in TVs because they can escape the products and end up in household dust, exposing adults and children to the chemicals through ingestion, such as through hand-to-mouth activity.

A copy of the study, “TV Reality: Toxic Flame Retardants in TVs,” can be found at toxicfreefuture.org/flame-retardants-tvs.

Specifically, the study tested 12 TV housings (the plastic outer portion) for seven flame retardants of high and moderate concern for health. The TVs were made by 12 different manufacturers, including Sanyo, Samsung Element, Hisense, Sharp, TCL, Toshiba, Vizio, Sony, AOC, and Insignia.

Testing results found:

  • 11 of the 12 TVs contained flame retardants at concentrations of up to 33% of the weight of the plastic enclosure.
  • Eight of the TVs contained flame retardants of high concern.
  • Two of the TVs – one made by Element and one made by Samsung – contained the PBDE flame retardant deca-BDE, despite being banned in five states. Those states are Washington, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, and Maryland. The TVs in the study were purchased in Washington.
  • Only one TV, made by Insignia, did not contain any of the flame retardants tested for.

The flame retardants tested for in the study are linked to a variety of negative health effects, including harm to the nervous system, hormone disruption, and cancer. Studies released in the past year linked higher levels of deca-BDE in the home with greater incidence of thyroid cancer and buildup of brominated flame retardants in placenta with altered thyroid hormone function.

“TV manufacturers must step up to safeguard the health of their customers. Televisions shouldn’t contain flame retardants that can escape into house dust and are linked to serious health effects like hormone disruption and cancer,” said Erika Schreder, Science Director for Toxic-Free Future and lead author of the study. “It’s disappointing that two TVs contained the banned flame retardant deca-BDE. Attorneys General in states that have banned deca must investigate and take action if warranted.”

The research shows that after PBDE flame retardants were banned, TV manufacturers switched to other chemical flame retardants that pose a health risk for people. These new generation flame retardants include DBDPE, which is almost identical to deca-BDE, together with other brominated flame retardants already found to be building up in people.

Dr. Mark Rossi, Executive Director of Clean Production Action states, “the testing results highlight the need for manufacturers to understand the toxicity of chemicals in their products and to use tools like GreenScreen® to identify safer alternatives and avoid regrettable substitutes.”

The study found that while television manufacturers have issued various statements and policies over the years about the use of flame retardant chemicals in their products, only two companies publicly report efforts to reduce chemicals of concern in their products. LG has banned all PBDE flame retardants in its products and Insignia (private label brand of Best Buy) launched a pilot project in 2015 to redesign the power source of its TV. Best Buy has also publicly committed to phase out chemicals of concern from its products, reduce its use of harmful chemicals, and improve its management of chemicals.

“This fall as we gather around the TV with our families to watch our favorite shows and football games, these products may be unsuspectingly releasing dangerous chemicals into our homes,” said Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director for Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.  “Major retailers of electronics like Best Buy can play an important role in working with their suppliers to eliminate toxic flame retardants and substitute them with safer alternatives.  We are pleased that Best Buy has developed a new chemicals management program and hope they and other retailers will reduce and eliminate these dangerous chemicals.”

A coalition of environmental health and business groups are urging the following policy actions to reduce exposure to toxic flame retardants from televisions:

  • State policy action: states should restrict high-concern flame retardants in television enclosures and require manufacturers to assess and adopt safer alternatives.
  • Enforcement: states with laws banning the use of deca-BDE should immediately take action against companies selling televisions containing the chemical.
  • Right to Know: states should require companies to disclose chemicals of high concern in electronics, including televisions.
  • Companies can make safer products: manufacturers should adopt and make public comprehensive chemicals policies to ensure televisions they produce are free of high-concern flame retardants.
  • Retailers can act: retailers should adopt and make public comprehensive chemicals policies to ensure televisions they sell are free of high-concern flame retardants.

“This study shows that state laws are important tools to protect health and environment from harmful chemicals,” said Sarah Doll, National Director of Safer States. “However, the study also shows the need for better enforcement of those laws. Without enforcement, manufacturers can continue to use toxic chemicals despite promises to the contrary. We call on State Attorneys General to enforce existing bans on toxic flame retardants and for state leaders to adopt policies that get other toxic flame retardants out of consumer products.”

 

Seattle, WA –Washington state health advocates applauded Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for urging the Department of Defense to clean up drinking water contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) used in some firefighting foams. Recently, drinking water in several Washington state communities tested high for PFAS chemicals, above USEPA health advisory limits.

Linked to a variety of health concerns, including cancer and developmental issues, PFAS chemicals are highly toxic and can stay in the human body for up to eight years or more.

The following is a statement from Toxic-Free Future Executive Director Laurie Valeriano:

“All Washingtonians expect and deserve drinking water that won’t make them sick. We applaud today’s announcement by Senators Murray and Cantwell that they are working towards a solution for the thousands of residents affected by PFAS-contaminated drinking water.

The existing PFAS contamination must be cleaned up as soon as effectively possible. The Department of Defense must also ensure residents affected by the contamination have safe drinking water. To prevent future PFAS contamination, the military must identify and switch to PFAS-free firefighting foams that are safer and effective.

It is also critical that Washington state take actions to prevent a new generation of PFAS chemicals, currently in wide use, from causing the same problem in the future. Washington should issue comprehensive drinking water standards for these chemicals and phase out the use of these chemicals in products such as firefighting foams, food packaging materials, cosmetics and textiles. Stopping the chemicals from entering the environment in the first place is the only real long-term solution.”

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Seattle, WA – The environmental health group Toxic-Free Future today called on Governor Inslee and the Departments of Ecology and Health to quickly tackle the health threat posed by toxic stainproof chemicals (PFAS chemicals) in light of new evidence that these chemicals are contaminating drinking water in the Spokane-area community of Airway Heights. PFAS chemicals are linked to a number of health effects, including cancer, reduced immunity, and lower birth weight.

 Continue reading 

Water tap on the beach

Seattle, WA – Washington state’s leading environmental health watchdog group, Toxic-Free Future, is urging the Department of Ecology to quickly issue its phaseout plan for perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) after a story in yesterday’s Seattle Times revealed the chemicals have contaminated drinking water on Whidbey Island. PFAS chemicals are linked to several health effects, including cancer, and are so persistent they can stay in the human body for up to five years.

The Department of Ecology is developing recommendations for eliminating sources of PFAS chemicals in the state. PFAS chemicals are used in numerous consumer products in our homes, including nonstick coatings in food packaging and stain resistant coatings on clothing and furniture. The chemicals have industrial uses as well, including in firefighting foams, which have been responsible for drinking water contamination in other areas.

The following is the statement of Toxic-Free Future Executive Director Laurie Valeriano:

“The news from Whidbey Island is devastating. The Navy and the state must continue their investigation and do everything in their power to help residents affected by the contamination.

Unfortunately, drinking water isn’t the only source of exposure to these chemicals. All of us are exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis from the products we use in our homes and the environment. While some forms of PFAS chemicals have been phased out, new ones have taken their place with little evidence they are safe for our health or environment.

For that reason, Ecology must quickly complete its phaseout plan for the entire class of chemicals. A strong plan must include a complete review of drinking water standards, as well as specific actions for banning sources of these chemicals when safer alternatives exist.”

More information on Ecology’s plan is available at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/hwtr/RTT/pbt/pfasAdCom.html

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Olympia, WA – Today health and consumer advocates travelled to Olympia to testify in favor of a bill to require makers of kids’ electronic products to report the use of harmful chemicals in their products. Products covered include game consoles like Xbox, computers, and tablets. Continue reading 

Reporters: Please contact Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, 206-854-7623 or mediainquiries@toxicfreefuture.org.

Seattle – A new report released this week shows Seattle-based Amazon and Costco are failing when it comes to tackling toxic chemicals. According to the report “Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals,” while some leading retailers are making significant progress to move the market away from toxic chemicals, other top retailers, including Amazon and Costco, remain serious laggards. Major U.S. retailers earned grades ranging from B for good progress to F for failing to develop and make public even basic safer chemical policies. Costco and Amazon both received grades of F, indicating a significant need for improvement by retailers to meet rising consumer demand for safer products.

Of the eleven retailers evaluated, three retail leaders are setting the pace for the entire sector by making meaningful progress toward safer chemicals and products. Walmart, Target, and CVS Health received the highest grades and have developed and made public the most robust safer chemical management programs during the past three years. Meanwhile, other large retailers remain serious laggards. Amazon, Costco, and Albertsons all earned failing grades. Amazon received the lowest grade of any retailer evaluated, accruing only 7.5 out of 130 possible points. Amazon’s market share is rapidly growing and the company is projected to soon be the biggest retailer of apparel and electronics in the U.S.

Retailers were graded on a scale of 0 to 130 points, and a corresponding letter grading scale was developed to match the points. Grades were assigned based on publicly available information concerning retailer policies and self-reported information concerning retailer practices. We also reached out to retailers, giving them an opportunity to review their draft score and provide additional information. Below is a full list of the retailers with their letter and corresponding number grades, ranked from the highest to the lowest graded companies:

retailer-report-card-for-web-851-x-315

The report card reveals for the first time significant improvements made to Target’s chemical policy over the past year. The company: 1) Added cosmetics to the categories of products covered by its policy; 2) Expanded the list of chemicals subject to its policy to include chemicals banned in cosmetics in the European Union and Canada; 3) Significantly improved its evaluation of suppliers’ transparency practices, particularly a new way for Target to evaluate fragrance ingredients against its restricted substance list; and 4) Added new criteria pushing suppliers to publicly disclose their fragrance palette, allergens in fragrance, and nanomaterials.

The report card also reveals for the first time that CVS Health has become the first pharmacy chain in the country to become a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project. Additionally, CVS Health has pledged to publicly disclose its restricted list of chemicals in 2017. Best Buy also disclosed it is developing a safer chemicals policy, restricted substance list, and manufacturing restricted substance list, to drive harmful chemicals out of electronics.

In addition, SCHF provided recommendations for retailers including developing public written safer chemical policies, embracing “radical transparency,” and requiring reputable third-party safer chemicals standards such as Safer Choice and Made Safe aimed at promoting healthier products.

Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future, said, “It is disappointing that Amazon and Costco, based in Washington state, are not responding to the overwhelming consumer demand for safer products. Washington consumers have demanded, and policymakers have responded by passing, policies that restrict harmful chemicals like toxic flame retardants and bisphenol A in products and require companies to disclose the chemicals in their children’s products. Amazon and Costco owe it to their customers to provide the safest products on their shelves.”

Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, said, “As the holiday shopping season approaches, consumers should pay close attention to how big retailers are tackling toxic chemicals. Our new report found that some giant retailers like Walmart, Target, and CVS are taking meaningful and concrete steps to systematically drive toxic chemicals out of products. However, too many others like Amazon, Costco, Albertsons and Kroger have failed to make public even basic safer chemical policies. The eleven retailers we evaluated have combined sales of over one trillion dollars, a market power that can transform the toxic chemical economy.”

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Toxic Substances Control Act Update Could Leave Washingtonians Without Critical Health Protections From Toxic Chemicals

Seattle, WA – This week Congress is set to vote on an update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the federal law regulating toxic chemicals that has not been updated since 1976. The vote could come as early as today. Continue reading 

Seattle, WA – Today Governor Inslee will sign the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act (ESHB 2545). The new law bans five toxic chemicals in home furniture and kids’ products, including the first-ever ban on TBBPA, a chemical found in kids’ car seats. It also establishes a state process for addressing six additional toxic flame retardants in the future.  The bill signing is scheduled for 2:45PM in the Governor’s Conference Room in Olympia, WA. Continue reading 

Seattle, WA –A new generation of flame retardants used as replacement chemicals to now-banned compounds are present in air at much higher concentrations than the chemicals they are replacing, according to a new peer-reviewed study appearing in the journal Chemosphere. Researchers say these new findings show inhalation to be a more significant route of exposure for new flame retardants and raise concerns about these replacements now found in everything from couches to children’s products. The study is available online. Continue reading 

(Seattle, WA) Just hours before consumers in Washington and around the country were planning to call attention to Macy’s stores sale of furniture products containing toxic flame retardant chemicals, the retailer announced it would end the practice. Activists from Earth Ministry, Arc of Washington State and Unite had planned to stand outside Macy’s stores throughout Central Washington instead hailed the Macy’s change as a victory for consumers’ and workers’ health and the environment. For weeks, groups around the country had been pressuring Macy’s on social media to make this move. Continue reading 

Seattle – Newly published test results show that a toxic contaminant linked to cancer known as perfluoroctonoic acid (PFOA) was found in anti-aging products from beloved brands Garnier and CoverGirl. PFOA is a contaminant of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), an ingredient used to create a smooth finish in personal care products and a non-stick surface on some pots and pans. Because of health concerns about perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) like PFOA, the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) will start work on a phaseout plan for PFCs later this month. Continue reading 

Seattle, WA – Children’s products contain chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and developmental problems according to over 6,500 newly released reports filed by makers of children’s products with the Washington State Department of Ecology. The chemicals reported include toxic flame retardants, phthalates, formaldehyde, and antimony. Major manufacturers who reported making the products include Toys “R” Us, Fred Meyer (Kroger), Michael’s, The Gap, Cost Plus World Market, and Little Tikes. Continue reading 

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. Continue reading 

(Seattle, WA) A new report released today by the Washington State Department of Ecology provides more support for the legislature to act on the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act (HB 1174/SB 5684), which bans certain toxic flame retardants in kids’ products and furniture. The report, requested by the Legislature, recommends the Legislature restrict the use of certain toxic flame retardants in kids’ products and furniture. Continue reading 

Seattle – Scientists have been puzzling over why toxic flame retardant chemicals used in products in our homes, like couches and TVs, are showing up in Puget Sound, rivers, and other waters across the state.

Now they have an answer thanks to a new peer-reviewed study published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology (pay required). Continue reading 

Seattle, WA  – Makers of children’s products have reported widespread use of harmful chemicals under a reporting requirement of  the landmark Washington state 2008 Children’s Safe Products Act (CSPA). “What’s on Your List? Toxic Chemicals in Your Shopping Cart,” reveals the prevalence of chemicals that can cause cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental problems in products readily available for purchase at many of the country’s largest retailers, including toxic flame retardants. Continue reading 

Olympia, WA — Most children’s furniture contains toxic flame retardant chemicals linked to serious health problems, according to a new study released by the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC). Environmental health advocates, firefighters, faith leaders and developmental disabilities advocates are urging state legislators to pass the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act (ESHB 1294), a bill that would phase out the use of toxic flame retardants in children’s products and furniture and move product manufacturers to safer alternatives. Continue reading 

After one 105-day regular session, two special sessions and despite strong scientific evidence, tremendous public support and a coalition of over 50 public health, religious and fire service organizations, the legislature failed to adopt a comprehensive ban on ineffective toxic flame-retardants used in children’s products and furniture. Continue reading 

Seattle, WA –Over 5000 children’s products contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive problems according to reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology). An analysis of the reports by the Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States found that makers of kids’ products reported using a total of 41 chemicals identified by Ecology as a concern for children’s health, including toxic metals such as cadmium, mercury, and antimony, and organic compounds such as phthalates.  Major manufacturers who reported using the chemicals in their products include Walmart, Gap, Gymboree, Hallmark, and H & M. Continue reading 

Olympia, WA – New chemical reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology show children’s product manufacturer Graco is using the harmful chemical flame retardant TBBPA in its products. TBBPA has been shown to affect thyroid hormone activity in laboratory studies. It may affect nervous system function as well. Graco recently made headlines by pledging to stop using the cancer-causing flame retardant chlorinated Tris in its products. Continue reading 

(Olympia, WA) – The Washington State House of Representatives passed a ban on toxic flame retardants in home furniture and children’s products late last night by a vote of 53-44. The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act (HB 1294), sponsored by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim), would ban the use of the harmful flame retardants TCEP and TDCPP in children’s products and home furniture, beginning July 1, 2014. The legislation would also help ensure that manufacturers use safer chemicals as replacements. Continue reading 

(Seattle, WA) – Children’s nap mats purchased in Washington state contain harmful flame retardant chemicals, according to independent testing commissioned by the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC). The flame retardant chemicals found in the nap mats, which are used in daycares, have been linked to cancer, genetic damage, impacts on fertility and reproductive health, allergies, hormone disruption, and other serious health problems. Continue reading 

Seattle, WA –Most couches contain high levels of untested or toxic flame retardants linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and other health effects, according to a new peer-reviewed study appearing today in Environmental Science and Technology. Health advocates are urging state legislators to pass the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act, a bill that would phase out the use of toxic flame retardants in couches and children’s products and move product manufacturers to safer alternatives. Continue reading 

Seattle, WA – According to new testing, perfumes used by tweens contain secret hormone-disrupting ingredients that should have been reported under state law. The research, conducted by the Washington Toxics Coalition, found that some makers of children’s products are flouting state law by failing to report the presence of phthalates in their products to the Department of Ecology and the public. The reporting is required under the Children’s Safe Products Act of 2008, which required major companies making children’s products to start reporting the presence of toxic chemicals in their products in August 2012. Continue reading 

(Seattle, WA) – For the first time makers of children’s products are disclosing the presence in their products of 66 toxic chemicals that are a concern to children’s health. The reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology represent the most comprehensive disclosure of chemical use in children’s products in the nation. Chemicals reported include those linked to cancer, learning problems, and reproductive abnormalities. The chemical use reports are available online at: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/cspa/ Continue reading 

(Seattle, WA) – Today the Washington State Department of Ecology granted a petition for rulemaking to designate the toxic flame retardant chlorinated Tris (TDCPP) a Chemical of High Concern for Children. The designation would trigger the legal requirement that makers of children’s products disclose to Ecology and the public whether any of their products contain the chemical. Ecology’s action comes in response to a rulemaking petition filed by the Washington Toxics Coalition in May. Continue reading 

(Seattle, WA) – The Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) today petitioned the Washington State Department of Ecology to add the toxic flame retardant chlorinated Tris (TDCPP) to the state’s list of Chemicals of High Concern to Children. Classifying chlorinated Tris as a chemical of high concern to children would trigger the legal requirement that companies using Tris in children’s products report their use to Ecology and the public. WTC filed the petition in response to the state legislature’s failure earlier this year to pass legislation banning the use of toxic Tris flame retardants. Continue reading 

(Seattle, WA) – Last night, the Washington State Senate failed to pass legislation to ban two cancer-causing flame retardants currently used in children’s car seats, changing pads, and other foam products. The bill, HB 2821, passed the House last Friday with a bipartisan vote of 60- 34. It was sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle).  Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Vashon) introduced a companion Senate bill. Continue reading 

Seattle, WA – A report released today identifies for the first time more than 650 brand name products that contain two hormone-disrupting toxic chemicals.  Based on new industry data, the report reveals for the first time a toxic ingredient, known as NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates), in nearly 300 household paints, as well as several cleaners, wood finishes and home maintenance products. The report also names plastic toys, such as Chicco baby rattles, which contain BPA (or bisphenol A), the same toxic chemical already banned in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups. Continue reading 

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. Continue reading 

Seattle, WA- Under a new rule issued by the Washington state Department of Ecology, makers of children’s products will soon have to report what toxic chemicals are present in their products. The rule is a first-of-its-kind in the nation and targets chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive abnormalities in a wide range of children’s products, including toys, clothes, and shampoos. Continue reading 

(Seattle, WA)  A study of products made for newborns, babies, and toddlers – including car seats, breast feeding pillows, changing pads, crib wedges, bassinet mattresses and other items made with polyurethane foam – found that 80% of products tested contained chemical flame retardants that are considered toxic, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science & Technology Journal.  Other retardants discovered had so little health and safety data on them it is not possible to know their effects at this time. The same flame retardants found in some of the products are also found in children’s bodies and widely dispersed throughout the environment and in food. A copy of the study can be found at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es2007462. Continue reading 

A new study was released today giving new meaning to the phrase “toxic assets.”  “On The Money: BPA on Dollar Bills and Receipts” researched by the nonprofit groups Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Washington Toxics Coalition, set out to investigate the extent to which thermal receipt paper containing bisphenol A (BPA) has permeated the market, and whether this hormone-disrupting chemical is escaping onto the money that lies close to these receipts in people’s wallets. Continue reading 

Olympia, WA—Today, Governor Gregoire signed the Safe Baby Bottle Act into law. The new legislation reinforces the state’s status as a national leader in protecting children’s health from toxic chemicals. Washington is now only the second state to ban bisphenol A (BPA) in sports bottles and the fifth to take action on the chemical in children’s dishware. Continue reading 

“EPA’s announcement of 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 is a huge victory for children’s health and the environment. Under the agreement, the manufacturers will stop the production, importation, and sales of deca for most uses in the United States over a three-year period. The agreement can be found at: www.epa.gov/oppt/pbde. Continue reading 

SEATTLE— Babies enter the world already having been exposed in the womb to chemicals from common everyday consumer products, according to a new study released today by the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC), Commonweal, and the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition. The groups say policy changes are needed to protect babies and mothers from toxic chemicals during this critical time of development. Continue reading 

Seattle, WA — Chemicals from everyday consumer products in our homes are polluting Puget Sound, according to a new study released today by the Washington Toxics Coalition and People For Puget Sound. Groups say policy changes are needed to eliminate harmful chemicals and restore Puget Sound. Continue reading 

Olympia, WA  – Armed with a giant 20-foot inflatable baby bottle, nearly 100 parents, kids, doctors, and nurses rallied at the state Capitol today in support of the Safe Baby Bottle Act (SHB 1180). They gathered on the Capitol steps and asked state legislators to pass the legislation, which will eliminate the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and other children’s food containers. The bill is awaiting floor action. Continue reading 

This summer, parents everywhere were faced with the unenviable task of taking some of their children’s most beloved toys away from them as millions of toys were recalled because of dangerous lead paint.  First, it was Thomas the Tank Engine at the end of July.  Just a few weeks later, Mattel announced that Elmo and Dora had to go too.  And just yesterday, seven additional toy recalls were issued, including one for more Thomas the Tank Engine toys, because of lead paint.  Parents are left to wonder, “What toy will be next?  What toys are safe?” Continue reading 

A federal judge in Seattle today overturned new Bush administration rules that made it easier for pesticide makers to ignore the effects of their products on endangered plants and animals. The court set aside the administration’s rules, and restored prior standards that provided greater protection to protected wildlife and plants. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought by a coalition of national and regional wildlife conservation and pesticide reform organizations. Continue reading 

A new study of 40 mothers from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Montana found PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) in the breast milk of every woman tested. PBDEs — toxic chemicals widely used as flame retardants in furniture foams, industrial textiles, and consumer electronics — have been shown to have a wide range of health effects on laboratory animals. Overall, the levels of PBDEs in the study were 20 to 40 times higher than levels found in European and Japanese women. Continue reading