CFC, Firefighters, Environmentalists Back Disclosure of Chemical Hazards in Children’s Products
Contact: Richard Holober / Brian Taylor
SACRAMENTO – 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, appropriately marked:
This product meets California’s furniture fire safety standard and:
contains added flame retardant chemicals
contains NO added flame retardant chemicals
“This is a critical bill for California consumers who have want to know whether children’s products contain toxic flame-retardant chemicals,” said Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California. “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.
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 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.”
The bill’s other co-sponsors agreed:
- “Consumers are rightfully concerned about added chemicals in children’s products, and firefighters are equally concerned due to the toxic chemical haze they face when responding to fires,” said Lou Paulson, President of California Professional Firefighters. “Making consumers aware of safe alternatives will help protect our youngest, most vulnerable Californians and first responders.”
- “Parents, grandparents, guardians and other consumers want to purchase safe products for their children, and this legislation helps them do that,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Health. “Consumers should always have the option to make informed decisions, especially when it impacts their family’s exposure to toxic chemicals.”
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