CPSC may ban toxic flame retardants in household products

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CPSC may ban toxic flame retardants in household products

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is seeking to ban chemically related flame retardants from children’s products, furniture, mattresses and household electronics.

Although the agency’s job is usually to enforce recalls of defective products, the chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission wants to start forcing toxic chemicals off the market to make households safer. Elliot Kaye, chairman of CPSC and father to two young boys, is hoping to take a more aggressive stance on protecting people from harmful chemicals and substances found in products rather than just the products themselves.

The new petition to ban flame retardants comes from the link of the chemicals to cancer, neurological issues, development problems and impaired fertility. The Academy of Pediatrics is proposing that CPSC use its powers to outlaw the chemicals without a direct order from Congress. Something similar was done in the late 1970s with flame retardants in children’s pajamas after it was discovered the chemical could cause cancer. Since then, the agency has been more proactive in dealing with products that pose immediate risks and letting the EPA handle chemicals. This is often a difficult job for the EPA considering the 40-year-old law that gives chemical manufacturers freedom to put products on the market without ever evaluating their safety, while also preventing them from banning toxic substances even after risks are discovered. Another looming factor is that the chemical industry is one of the biggest lobbying spenders in Washington.

Although most think that flame retardants actually prevent injuries or save lives, they don’t actually protect people from fires like they are marketed. Although a good portion of furniture retailers have stopped using these chemicals, the ones that do, are required by California law to attach a label saying they do. California has also changed flammability standards to require upholstery fabrics to resist cigarettes, which is the leading cause in furniture fires. This is standard has taken away the need for most flame retardants anyways if not altogether.

Furniture is not the only product affected by unnecessary and life threatening chemicals. Phthalates, for example, are very common in plastics, lotions, shampoos and perfumes and can be dangerous to human health. Chemicals are commonly used in toys, mattresses and other household items that are used every day by consumers.

As Kaye works to make positive changes, hopefully safer alternatives will be used and companies and the government will comply. There is no need for chemicals that could cause genetic modifications that could be passed down for generations to come, especially if the chemicals are not really beneficial in the first place.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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