Flame retardant bans

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 30, 2007 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Two bills have been introduced this year which would ban flame retardants: AB 513 (Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View), PBDE Prohibition, and AB 706 (Mark Leno, D-San Francisco), Fire Retardants/Toxic Effects.  Both bills are scheduled to be heard on April 10th before the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. 

They both have also been double-referred (assigned to two policy committees) in the Assembly.  AB 513 will also be heard by Assembly Health and AB 706 will also be heard by the Business and Professions Committee.

AB 513 would ban the flame retardant decabromo diphenyl ether (better known as Deca-BDE), despite the strong body of scientific evidence supporting its continued use and its established fire prevention benefits.  Deca-BDE is used in a broad range of products including: automobiles, airplanes, medical devices, consumer electronics, furniture, textiles and business materials.  Banning Deca–BDE would jeopardize public health and safety by forcing manufacturers to switch to unspecified alternatives, probably at a higher cost, with unknown long term impacts or to abandon the use of flame retardants altogether.

Deca-BDE has been the subject of extensive scientific reviews by California’s Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the European Union with a ten-year risk assessment.   None of the findings support restrictions or prohibitions on the use of this chemical. 

AB 706 would ban two entire classes of flame retardants in furniture and bedding applications – again, based on speculation about potential health and environmental impacts.  This bill sets a disturbing precedent by banning not just a specific chemical, but entire classes of chemicals – all brominated and chlorinated flame retardants.  This makes up ninety percent of all flame retardants available to manufacturers, forcing them to use unspecified and, perhaps, untested alternatives.  Language in the bill states a premise that furniture and bedding no longer present a significant fire risk to the public. 

Public safety is of paramount concern to product manufacturers.  Flame retardants are directly responsible for saving hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property damage each year in California alone. 

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