(Hartford, CT) - Following growing scientific evidence that links use of flame retardant chemicals in upholstered furniture to serious health concerns, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) today issued a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission calling on them to promptly finalize new flammability standards that would both enhance fire safety and help eliminate the unnecessary use of toxic, dangerous flame retardant chemicals.
The toxic flame retardants have not been shown to improve fire safety, and have been linked to serious health impacts, including cancer, neurological and reproductive diseases, hormonal disruption, obesity and other harmful conditions. Most alarming, blood samples from babies and young children in California have shown some of the highest levels of flame retardant chemicals ever detected in the general population.
In their letter, the Senators call on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to promptly adopt as the national standard, California’s flammability standard, which focuses on the leading cause of furniture fire deaths—smoking materials-- and would help eliminate the unnecessary use of flame retardant chemicals.
“The use of flame retardants in furniture is widespread, despite a growing body of evidence linking this class of chemicals to serious health impacts, including cancer, neurological and reproductive diseases, hormonal disruption, obesity, immunotoxicity, and neurodevelopmental delays. Blood samples from babies and young children, who are the most vulnerable to the toxic effects of these chemicals since their brains and bodies are still developing, have some of the highest levels of flame retardants ever detected in the general population. We believe it is critical to reduce unnecessary exposure to flame retardants. Moreover, CPSC’s own findings have shown that these chemicals, as they have been used in residential furniture, provide no meaningful fire safety benefit,” the letter states.
Blumenthal said: “These flame retardant chemicals are a menace, causing severe health impacts, particularly in young children and our emergency responders, while providing no meaningful fire protection. While some furniture stores are fortunately moving ahead with safer products on their own, many major stores still have no plans to discontinue use of these dangerous chemicals. A national flammability standard is needed immediately. We are calling on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to stop stalling and do the right to protect the safety of children, firefighters and consumers, and simply adopt California’s commonsense flammability standard as the national standard.”
“No parent should have to worry that their furniture will poison their children. No consumer should need a graduate degree in chemistry to know if a common product is safe to buy. And yet, that is exactly the situation we face today with toxic flame retardants in furniture,” said ConnPIRG State Director Evan Preston. “Immediate action by businesses and government is needed to protect the public from these toxic and unnecessary chemicals.”
"Clean Water Action is proud to stand with Senator Blumenthal and the Hartford Firefighters to raise awareness on the toxic nature of flame retardants and to push for policies that reduce exposure. Firefighters are at high risk of cancers due to exposure to these chemicals as are developing babies and young children. These chemicals do not protect people from fire and pose a serious health threat to people and the environment,” said Anne Hulick, Director of Connecticut Clean Water Action and Coordinator for the Coalition for Safe and Healthy Connecticut.