OAKLAND, Calif.— Harmful flame retardant chemicals linked to infertility, thyroid disease, neurodevelopmental problems, cancer and other illness were found in 90% of children’s play furniture. The new Center for Environmental Health (CEH) report shows that children’s furniture with the harmful chemicals are prevalent in stores nationwide and in Canada.
It is legal and common practice for manufacturers to add toxic chemicals to children’s products. Congress has not passed any chemical policy that prevents this assault on our most vulnerable. Groups from Canada and the US purchased 42 children’s furniture items from popular retailers. Many of the items found with flame retardants are designed with colorful children’s characters including Disney Princesses, Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer, Marvel Comics’ Spiderman, and others.
“I had a P’Kolino Little Reader chair tested, thinking my two year old grandson would love it,” says Kathy Curtis, from Clean and Healthy New York, coordinator of Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety. “The chair contained both Firemaster 550 and TDCPP. Retailers should be more careful about the products they sell. We’re working with the Getting Ready for Baby Campaign to call upon Babies"R"Us and buybuy Baby to require product suppliers to disclose their use of hazardous chemicals, and to stop carrying products containing them in their stores.” “People of color are disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals generally.
Some persistent toxic flame retardants drift north on wind and water and are in higher concentrations in the bodies of the indigenous Arctic people,” adds Maricarmen Cruz-GuillotywithAlaska Community Action on Toxics.
“These results confirm for us that Canada has a similar situation of unregulated and needless use of highly toxic chemicals in consumer products intended for children,” stated Kathleen Cooper, with the Canadian Environmental Law Association. “In years past, Oregon led the nation with tough laws on toxic brominated flame retardants,” says Chris Hagerbaumerwith Oregon Environmental Council’s(OEC). “But clearly, it’s not enough to get rid of toxic chemicals; we must also ensure that the alternatives are safer.”
“Even though Maine has been a leader in protecting kids from toxic chemicals, we found play furniture purchased here in Maine contains harmful flame retardant chemicals. It is time for retailers and lawmakers to demand that manufacturers make household products that are safe for kids,” says Emma Halas-O’Connor from The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine.
“Companies are using toxic or untested flame retardants in children’s furniture, and they’re not providing any kind of fire safety benefit. It’s only common sense for the Washington legislature to take action to get toxic flame retardants out of children’s products,” stated Erika Schreder from Washington Toxics Coalition.
“Biologically, children are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals. That’s why we’re concerned about these test results and why we are advocating for comprehensive chemical regulatory reform that actually protects children from harmful chemicals in products", says Cassidy Randall, Women’s Voices for the Earth.
Upcoming changes to flammability regulations, expected in 2014, will reduce toxic exposure. “Until now, furniture makers were required to use these chemicals, and retailers were stuck selling these toxic products,” notes Judy Levin of CEH. “Soon, retailers will have an opportunity to show they care about children’s health by telling manufacturers they only wish to carry toxic-free furniture. Leading retailers can help ensure that children everywhere can sit on furniture without worrying about toxic chemicals.”
Experts, direct contact info: Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety