Bill targeting flame retardants is misleading & unscientific

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, May 9, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Earlier this year CMTA’s Environmental Quality Committee targeted Senator Mark Leno’s (D-San Francisco) SB 1019 as a bill to watch closely. The bill had to do with the Secretary of CalEPA’s Working Group on Environmental Justice. However, on March 24th, Senator Leno gutted and amended the bill.

The bill now requires an upholstered-furniture manufacturer to indicate whether or not the product contains added flame retardant chemicals and to include the following statement on the label:

    “This product meets California’s furniture fire safety standard land the upholstery materials: contains added flame retardant chemicals ___ or contains NO added flame retardant chemicals ___. The Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings, and Thermal Insulation found that flame retardant chemicals in furniture do not provide a meaningful fire safety benefit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such flame retardant chemicals can migrate into air and house dust where people can be exposed to them.”

Under the bill manufacturers would be required to retain sufficient documentation to show whether flame retardant chemicals were added to a covered product or component.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) would be tasked with establishing regulations, and with monitoring, compliance, testing, enforcement and assessment of fines.

SB 1019 would mislead consumers about the safety of products that contain flame retardant chemicals:

  • The proposed label language includes a statement about flame retardant exposure attributed to the CDC, but it fails to acknowledge that CDC also recognizes – and has stated publicly – that evidence of exposure to a chemical does not mean it will cause harmful effects.
  • The label language also ignores the fact that the US-EPA has identified approximately 50 flame retardant chemicals that it concludes are unlikely to pose a risk to human health.

The proposed labeling requirements lack scientific justification and conflict with California’s Proposition 65 and Green Chemistry laws:

  • Proposition 65 requires businesses to warn the public of exposure to chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. The warning is triggered by a chemical-specific listing decision that is based on a review of the available science.
  • Similarly, under the new Safer Consumer Products regulation, DTSC may require manufacturers to notify consumers of exposure to chemicals of concern, but only after the chemical-product combination is identified and subject to an alternatives assessment.

SB 1019 circumvents both laws by requiring manufacturers to warn consumers of exposure to flame retardants regardless of whether the available scientific evidence would justify such action – it’s an example of the kind of outcome the Legislature was trying to avoid when it passed the Green Chemistry law in 2008.

This bill is expected to go to Suspense in Senate Appropriations.  CMTA is actively opposing SB 1019.

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