(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.

If the bill passes the Senate, Washington would become the first state with such a ban.  The bill now moves to the Senate where a similar bill, SB 5181, failed to get a vote in the Senate Environment Committee.

Scientists, fire safety experts, and government agencies have increasingly voiced concerns over the effectiveness and safety of toxic flame retardants, including TDCPP, known as chlorinated Tris. The Washington State Department of Ecology has recently agreed to add TDCPP to the state’s list of Chemicals of Concern to Children. Both California and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have declared TDCPP a carcinogen.  Children are exposed to flame retardants from nap mats when the chemicals leach out into the air, and when chemicals settle in dust that children touch and ingest.

A coalition of over 30 organizations are urging the Senate to pass HB 1294:

“We thank the House for its leadership in protecting children’s health from these harmful and unnecessary chemicals. It’s time for us to get off the toxic treadmill of replacing one harmful chemical with another,” said Laurie Valeriano, executive director of the Washington Toxics Coalition.  “We urge the Senate to pass a strong bill too.”

“On behalf of more than 8,000 professional fire fighters across the state of Washington and their families, we thank the House of Representatives for protecting the health and safety of our children and the first responders who endeavor to protect their communities without the fear of exposure to dangerous chemical flame retardants,” said Kelly Fox, president of the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.

“We applaud the House for taking this vote to protect our kids and the environment from these toxic chemicals and look forward to passing the bill in the Senate as well,” said Cliff Traisman, lobbyist with the Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters.

“These chemicals do not belong in our homes and around our children. We join the many voices calling on the Senate to protect children’s health and get these chemicals out of Washington state,” said Karen Bowman, R.N. and environmental health specialist with the Washington State Nurses Association.

“People of faith across Washington applaud the House for passing the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act,” said LeeAnne Beres, executive director of Earth Ministry. “Standing in protection of our most vulnerable is a central tenant of religious belief and getting these toxic chemicals out of children’s products is an important step. We look to the Senate for the same leadership on behalf of all of our families.”

Advocates want to especially thank Reps. Kevin Van De Wege, Dave Upthegrove, Larry Springer, Zack Hudgins, and Pat Sullivan, and Speaker Frank Chopp for their leadership on this issue.

Other states considering bills to regulate the use of flame retardants in 2013 include Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont. Also earlier this month, California proposed a new fire safety standard (called TB117-2013) that would provide improved fire safety without the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals.

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