(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.
Tris is currently used in children’s car seats, changing pads, couches, and other polyurethane foam products, and has been linked to cancer and other health effects. Tris was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s because of health concerns and was recently declared a “known carcinogen” by California. People are exposed to the chemical when it escapes from the products, contaminates house dust, and then is ingested or inhaled in homes.
“Chlorinated Tris is bad news for our health and has no business in our homes, especially when there are safer options for fire prevention,” said Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, campaign director with the Washington Toxics Coalition. “Although a statewide ban on Tris is the only way to get it out of our homes for good, Ecology’s action is a welcome interim step. Parents and policy makers will now get critical information about where Tris is used and what products to avoid.”
Earlier this year, the legislature failed to pass a ban on chlorinated Tris in children’s products sponsored by Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island) and Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle). After passing the Washington State House with a bipartisan vote of 60- 34, the Toxic-Free Kids Act (EHB 2821) failed to pass the Senate before the end of the 2012 special session.
Twenty-three state legislators renewed their support for legislation to ban Tris in children’s products in a letter in support of the rulemaking petition, writing “We assure you that legislation will again be sponsored in 2013 to ban Chlorinated Tris (as well as TCEP, another flame retardant also known to cause cancer) in children’s products.”
In addition to state legislators, 25 environmental health, community, social justice, and environmental organizations, as well as nearly 1300 citizens supported the rule-making petition.
Tris has received nationwide attention in recent months after the chemical was the focus of a four-part front-page series by the Chicago Tribune called “Playing with Fire”. The series uncovered evidence that the use of chlorinated Tris to retard fires is less effective than other non-chemical methods. It also exposed questionable science and fear-mongering tactics used by the chemical industry to defend the use of chlorinated Tris in consumer products, including paying a University of Washington burn doctor to present false testimony to state legislatures.
“Tris and the chemical industry are getting much needed scrutiny from lawmakers, companies, and consumers,” said Sager-Rosenthal. “We look forward to the day when the chemical industry and its allies are no longer able to poison our homes with these chemicals.”
As a result of the Tribune series, 46 state legislators, including seven Washington State legislators, sent a July 16th letter to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee calling for a Congressional investigation of the fire retardant scandal.
Also, the Washington State Firefighters joined three other state professional fire fighters associations in a July 13th letter to the American Chemistry Council calling on the chemical manufacturers trade group to expel from its membership the three companies that produce flame retardant chemicals: Albemarle, Chemtura and ICL.