Thursday, January 22, 2009

Say "ta-ta" to toxic flame retardants

In 2007, Rep. Ross Hunter finally won a three-year battle against chemical companies that manufacture toxic flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. These chemicals are found in everything from mattresses to televisions, and research has linked exposure to the chemical with a wide range of adverse health effects, particularly in children.

Hunter’s legislation made Washington the first state in the nation to ban all forms of the chemical. But before the legislation could go into effect, the state Department of Ecology and state Department of Health were asked to work with a fire safety committee and the state Fire Marshal to identify safer, less toxic flame retardants that still meet fire safety standards.

The good news? Their recommendations are finally complete. As reported by the Department of Ecology:
This report triggers the state ban on the manufacture, sale and distribution of televisions, computers and residential upholstered furniture containing Deca-BDE by January 2011.

"This is an expected step in a careful process – a finding that there are safer alternatives to Deca and other brominated flame retardants," said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Bellevue. “This is a great step towards increased environmental safety for children."
Bottom line – the new sofa or computer you've had your eye on will soon be available without the toxic additives.