SB 763: CFC, Firefighters, Environmentalists Back Disclosure Of Chemical Hazards In Children’s Products
9/8/2015 update: SB 763 has been moved to the inactive file. CFC no longer supports the bill due to hostile amendments approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 27.
Instead of requiring tags stating the presence or absence of toxic flame retardant chemicals on all merchandise covered by the bill, as we had sought, SB 763 would now only require “a manufacturer of juvenile products that contain added flame retardant chemicals, as defined, in California, to include a specified statement on a label, that meets certain labeling requirements.”
The statement: “The State of California has determined that this product does not pose a serious fire hazard. The state has identified many flame retardant chemicals as being known to, or strongly suspected of, adversely impacting human health or development. The fabric, filling, and plastic parts of this product contain added flame retardant chemicals.”
MARCH 10, 2015 – The Consumer Federation of California (CFC) has joined with professional firefighters and environmental advocates to co-sponsor legislation letting parents know whether products they buy for their children contain ineffective and hazardous flame retardants.
Senate Bill 763, recently introduced by state Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would require a range of products intended for sale in California and for use with infants and children – from bassinets, booster seats, car seats and high chairs to nap mats, nursing pillows, strollers and beyond – to carry the following label [as amended June 19], appropriately marked:
“The State of California has determined that this product does not pose a serious fire hazard. The state has identified many flame retardant chemicals as being known to, or strongly suspected of, adversely impacting human health or development.
“The fabric, filling, and plastic parts of this product:
_____ contains added flame retardant chemicals
_____ contains NO added flame retardant chemicals”
“This is a critical bill for California consumers who want to know whether children’s products contain toxic flame-retardant chemicals,” said CFC Executive Director Richard Holober. “It increases transparency in the marketplace and builds consumer confidence, which is good for both customers and product manufacturers.”
For nearly a decade, CFC and other groups have advocated against toxic flame retardants that became commonplace in California homes as a result of an antiquated state furniture fire safety regulation adopted in the 1970s. These chemicals have been linked to reproductive harm, cancer and other human health hazards. Fire safety experts consider them to be ineffective in preventing household fires. Chemical industry-funded front groups spent more than $23 million in lobbying to retain the 1970s standard, but the reformers’ efforts paid off when the regulations were changed in 2013 to allow the sale of non-toxic, fire-safe furniture.
Senator Leno followed up last year with SB 1019, which required labeling to disclose whether the home furnishings contained toxic chemicals, enabling consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. CFC and its allies supported SB 1019, which the Legislature approved and Governor Jerry Brown signed despite continued resistance from the chemical lobby. Learn more about SB 1019.
SB 763 seeks to extend the consumers’ right to know that’s embodied in SB 1019 to products that surround infants and children, and to reduce their exposure to chemicals. Young children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of ingesting these toxics.
In 2011, infants and toddler products such as floor play mats, infant bouncers, infant carriers, seats, swings and walkers, playpen side pads, strollers and foam crib mattresses were exempted from the 1970s flammability standard. Despite this, many children’s products continued to contain flame retardant chemicals. SB 1019’s labeling requirement does not cover these children’s products. SB 763 closes that labeling loophole for these infant and toddler products.
According to Senator Leno’s office, flame-retardant chemicals migrate into household dust that is ingested and inhaled by humans, pets and wildlife. Because young children spend a large amount of time playing on the floor and putting their hands in their mouths, they typically have three to five times the amount of flame retardant chemicals in their bodies as their mothers do.
“Knowing that children come into intimately close contact with nursing pillows, high chairs and portable cribs, parents deserve the right to know if these common products contain harmful flame-retardant chemicals,” said Senator Leno. “This bill empowers parents and other consumers to make educated decisions at the point of purchase and gives businesses a uniform way to communicate important information about their products.”
- Official bill text, current location and other resources from the California Legislature
- CFC co-sponsorship letter to Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development
- American Chemistry Council Lied About Lobbying Role On Flame Retardants, Consultant Says; Center for Public Integrity/The Daily Beast
- As An Insider Speaks Out, Chemical Industry’s Credibility Sinks: Sacramento Bee editorial
- Playing With Fire: groundbreaking Chicago Tribune exposé on hazardous, ineffective flame retardants and the chemical lobby’s deceitful efforts to continue their use.