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Contact: Stephenie Hendricks, Coming Clean, Alliance for Toxic free Fire Safety 415 258-9151 stephdh@earthlink.net

November 21, 2013

Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals No Longer?

New California Regulation Announced

Enables Fire Safety Without Toxic Flame Retardants

(San Francisco) Physicians, scientists, consumer and parent advocates, firefighters, furniture manufacturers and retailers celebrated a hard fought change in California regulations that now enables furniture made for sale for the state to meet a fire safety standard without the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals. Governor Jerry Brown’s Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI) announced the new regulation today.

“Such great news that we can soon buy fire safe and healthy furniture without flame retardants,” says Arlene Blum, PhD, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, who has worked on flame retardants since her research on tris in baby pajamas in the 1970s. "Beginning January 1 2014,  we can look for a TB117-2013 tag and then ask for furniture that does not contain flame retardants."

Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, reproductive health researcher at UCSF, says, “Flame retardant chemicals used in furniture have been linked to lower IQ in children, reproductive problems, thyroid disease and other health impacts. These chemicals provided no fire benefit and have resulted in contamination of humans, our pets and wildlife. These new regulation eliminate the need for flame retardant chemicals in our furniture and yet our furniture is still fire safe. This is  a great day for everyone's health!"

“We worked so hard for this day to come. Now California can lead the way in preventing exposure from these toxic flame retardant chemicals,” says Judy Levin, Pollution Prevention   co-director with Center for Environmental Health (CEH). “CEH will continue to hold corporations accountable for using toxic flame retardant chemicals that can make our children sick.” CEH recently released a report that demonstrates harmful flame retardant chemicals in children’s upholstered furniture.


Avinash Kar, staff attorney in the Health Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, adds: “This is good news for Californians and people across the country. The long-overdue new standards will protect us against fires without the need for toxic fire retardant chemicals, which have been linked to cancer and other health problems. This is a win-win for millions of consumers everywhere.”

Bill Allayaud, California Director of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group, states "A huge thanks goes to Governor Jerry Brown who broke the toxic chemical industry's stranglehold on this reform. He became informed about the issue and then cut through their rhetoric and mistruths through a simple order."

“This decision is a public health victory for all Americans, as well as people and wildlife around the world.” said Renée Sharp, Research Director for Environmental Working Group. "Governor Brown deserves a standing ovation for taking action to reduce the use of toxic fire retardants while improving fire safety with these new rules."

“People of color are disproportionately impacted harmed by toxic chemicals generally. Some persistent toxic flame retardants drift north on wind and water and are in higher concentrations in the bodies of Arctic Indigenous peoples,” adds Maricarmen Cruz-Guilloty with Alaska Community Action on Toxics “Now we can stop the issue of constant exposure that was because of the California regulation and focus on how to clean up the chemicals here in Alaska. This is the beginning of the end of toxic flame retardants. TB 117 was the regulation that contaminated the planet, including the Arctic, with toxic flame retardants. Now we must ensure that this new regulation is expeditiously implemented in order to protect our families.”

Kathy Curtis, LPN, executive director of Clean and Healthy New York (CHNY) and coordinator of the Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety explains, “Now those of us in other states can move forward more readily to halt toxic chemicals in products. In addition to the bad California regulation, we also face a failed federal system for regulating chemicals, and right now a battle is being waged in Congress between legislators under the influence of the chemical corporations and health advocates who want to keep harmful chemicals from being approved for use to begin with.”

Tony Stefani, founder of the San Francisco Firefighter Cancer Prevention Foundation, says, “This is a great step toward protecting the health and lives of firefighters and other first responders. Some of the illnesses we see in our ranks are preventable if we can halt more chemicals exposure. Now burning couches and other upholstered furniture will be less toxic to firefighters.”

“Now Canadians stand a chance of buying safer furniture from the U.S." stated Kathleen Cooper, with the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

I am proud to be a Californian today, this decision will means we can stop exporting toxic flame retardants that are ending up in the bodies of people all over the world,” says Martha Dina Arguello, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles.

Jose Bravo, executive director of the  Just Transition Alliance says, “The fire retardants industry spent millions of dollars fighting us on this, even to the point of creating environmental justice front groups to spew misinformation. Power to the People of California and all over the country fighting on the side of a healthier future for us all.”

"It's great to see public safety regulations that also protect human health, says Ruthann Rudel, Director of Research at Silent Spring Institute. Carcinogens don't have any business being in our furniture. Now we can look to other places like Boston and Massachusetts that reference California's flammability regulations to update their codes to this new standard, so that our health in New England is protected too."

“It’s thrilling to see meaningful change happen thanks to the tireless work of environmental and public health activists. The sole purpose of the previous regulation was to create a lucrative market for the chemical industry. The new law will help protect our environment and keep our families safe.” David Allgood, Political Director, California League of Conservation Voters.


“Congratulations to all of you who have been working so hard on this!!!!! It is a wonderful turning point in the fight...! This will be huge not just in CA or the US, but will send a message around the world that will hopefully lead to other great efforts and initiatives. This is a blaze that won't be snuffed out -- of the best kind!” Russell Long, Board Member, Friends of the Earth.

More Info: Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety

Governor’s News Release

Available for Interviews

Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility — Los Angeles, CA. 310.261.0073, marguello@psr-la.org. Martha can address a variety of toxic chemical exposure issues — to communities of color, about educating physicians, and what has happened in California regarding reforming state chemical regulatory policy. She has been involved in the California Green Chemistry Initiative.

Arlene Blum PhD, a chemist, and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, has been studying the harmful effects of these chemicals since the 1970’s. 510.644.3164, Arlene@GreenSciencePolicy.org Dr. Blum has been a  co-author of studies demonstrating toxics in baby products and her research in the 1970’s led to the removal of chlorinated Tris from children’s pajamas.

Jose T. Bravo, Executive Director, Just Transition Alliance, San Diego, CA. 619.838.6694, jose@just-transition.org. Jose works with communities contaminated with chemicals, which occurs mostly where people of color and low-income residents live.

Maricarmen Cruz-Guilloty, Environmental Health and Justice Coordinator and Pamela K. Miller, Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) pamela@akaction.org (cell 907.242-9991), 907.222.7714 (office), and Vi Waghiyi ,Alaska Community Action on Toxics, (cell 907.444.9194). Pam and Vi can address how unregulated persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals drift North and disproportionately impact indigenous Arctic people.

Kathy Curtis, LPN, National Coordinator of Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety, clean.kathy@gmail.com, 518.708.3922. Ms. Curtis can explain how federal chemical regulation has failed to address the problem of halogenated flame retardant chemicals, and how states are stepping up across the nation to restrict the chemicals in the absence of federal action. Kathy has been involved in efforts to restrict chlorinated Tris in New York State.

Michael Green, executive director, Center for Environmental Health. Contact: Charles Margulis, 510-697-0615, charles@CEH.org. Michael can address product testing that CEH has done of products with flame retardants, and California regulatory policy.

Judy Levin, MSW, Pollution Prevention Co-Director, Center for Environmental Health, judy@cehca.org; 510.655.3900 x316, cell: 510.697.3947. Judy can address the details of California regulatory and policy issues.

Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, Assistant Clinical Professor, University of California, San Francisco 415-722-0120 sarah.janssen@ucsf.edu. Dr. Janssen can discuss health impacts linked to flame retardant chemicals and her research on chemicals and reproductive health.

Ruthann Rudel, MS, Director of Research at Silent Spring Institute was the first to measure flame retardants in U.S. homes and has been studying human exposure to flame retardants for over a decade. 617-332-4288.rudel@silentspring.org

Tony Stefani, cancer survivor, retired San Francisco Firefighter Captain and founder of the  San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation. 530-320-9765,stefanit@sbcglobal.net. Tony can address high rates of cancer among firefighters and his support for removing toxic flame retardants from furniture.