Friday, February 22, 2013

Legislators put their couches to the test

Would you like some toxic chemicals with your couch?
Photo by L. Barnfather

Rep. Kevin Van De Wege and Sen. Sharon Nelson are sponsoring legislation to ban certain toxic chemicals from children's products and upholstered furniture.

Nicknamed the "Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act," the companion measures were making their way through the House and Senate, at least until this morning.

But keep hope alive:  tomorrow, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government will have a hearing on Van De Wege's bill, and if eventually voted out of that committee it will be just a step away from going to a vote before the full House.
In the meantime, the two legislators wanted to show just how prevalent these toxic chemicals are in upholstered furniture like couches. They authorized testing to be conducted on the couches in both of their legislative offices, and the results were revealed to KING 5's Gary Chittim in a recent special report.
During the KING 5 interview, Sen. Nelson held up a glass jar containing half a pound of sugar (see photo), representing the amount of the toxic chemical chlorinated Tris that is present in most residential couches. The chemical, a known carcinogen, ends up in household dust, where it is inhaled or ingested most often by babies and young children. It also poses a risk to firefighters, who are exposed to toxic fumes produced by these chemcials when responding to house fires.
As if that wasn't bad enough, independent testing commissioned by the Washington Toxics Coalition reveals these same toxic chemicals are prevalent in children's nap mats, which are often used in preschools and day care centers.
It doesn't have to be this way. The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act gets our state off the toxic treadmill by taking these harmful chemicals out of furniture and children's products, and prohibiting equally toxic chemicals from being substituted in their place. 

Read this story in Spanish