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June 19, 2012

Governor Brown Moves to Protect Californians from
Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals
State Legislature to Hold Hearing June 26th
Advocates Issue Response, to Hold Webinar June 20th

(Sacramento) Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement yesterday voicing his commitment to protect Californians from harmful flame retardant chemicals. Scientists, physicians, firefighters, business people, consumer and environmental health advocates responded with a great sense of relief. Click here to read the response from Californians for Toxic Free Fire Safety.

“The news came as the state legislature is planning a Hearing  (hyperlink to info) June 26th, to examine toxic flame retardants and fire safety in regards to TB 117, an obsolete California regulation that, de facto, puts flame retardant chemicals into foam for furniture and other items for sale in California. As  studies show these chemicals don't stop fires, can make fires more deadly, and lead to serious health effects, this Hearing is critical for our state.” explains Ana Mascareñas from Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles, and coordinator for Californians for Toxic-Free Fire Safety.

Arlene Blum, PhD, with Green Science Policy Institute, explains,”Legislators called for a Hearing on the heels of a Chicago Tribune investigation that revealed deception from chemical industry in testimony in front of California and other state legislatures in the past regarding flame retardants and the science for health impacts. Now we scientists will be able to address the Legislators with important modern studies
showing health hazards and how ineffective TB 117 is for fire safety.”

Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, with Natural Resources Defense Council and University of California, School of Medicine says, “Research links many of these flame retardant chemicals to lower IQs and hyperactivity in children, and also to reproductive problems and endocrine disruption. The entire world is watching California to see if we will act to prevent continuing global contamination from chemicals used to meet TB 117.”

“Governor Brown’s move to direct state agencies to revise California’s flammability standard shows he recognizes the dangers posed by toxic chemicals used as fire retardants,” said Victoria Rome, deputy director of California advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “A revised flammability standard can ensure fire safety and promote healthy homes.”

Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California, said:  “We are pleased to hear that the Brown Administration is taking action to replace this antiquated regulation with a new standard that will prevent the spread of home fires without the use of harmful chemicals."

“As the Governor has acknowledged, numerous studies show that firefighters face significantly elevated risk of developing many different types of cancer, risks related to the chemical exposures they face every day on the job,” said Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters. “The combustion by-products created by fires involving flame retardants turn these toxic mixtures even more deadly.”

“Our families deserve better than lies from the chemical industry,” said Sarah Rose, CEO California League of Conservation Voters. “We applaud Governor Brown for recognizing that it is time for California to take the lead, as our state does on so many important environmental health and safety issues, and update this dangerous and outdated flammability standard that puts our children and our environment at risk.”

"We are literally polluting the entire world with our four-decade old guidelines," said Renee Sharp, senior scientist and director of Environmental Working Group's California office. "Contrary to industry's talking points, toxic flame retardants do not increase protection against fire dangers but taint our bodies and those of our children with chemicals linked to infertility, cancer and behavioral changes."

“We are extraordinarily pleased that Governor Brown has announced a plan to revise  California’s antiquated TB 117 standard.  We need to ensure that California’s new furniture flammability standard is aligned with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s draft standard that offers greater fire safety benefits without the use of toxic chemicals.  The public will have to be vigilant to make sure that the chemical industry does not try to corrupt the hearings and public comment period with their  misleading and inaccurate testimony.”  Judy Levin, Pollution Prevention Director, Center for Environmental Health.

“The Governor’s action to reduce toxic flame retardants is a key step in a long journey to reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals. We applaud the Governor for putting the health and safety of Californian’s first.” Daniel Jacobson. Legislative Director for Environment California.

"Governor Brown today took the first step towards ending a toxic nightmare that has caused the contamination of humans, animals, and marine species around the globe. He continues to demonstrate the vision and leadership that we have counted on for decades, and is to be roundly applauded" Russell Long, board member, Friends of the Earth.

Californians for Toxic Free Fire Safety is holding a webinar for media  only on June 20th, noon Pacific. To RSVP and get information to join, click here.

Available for Interviews

Martha Dina Arguello, Executive Director, marguello@psr-la.org, and Ana Mascareñas, Policy & Communications Coordinator, Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles (PSR-LA) 213 689-9170, amascarenas@psr-la.org. Martha and Ana can explain state policy efforts to stop the halogenated flame retardants, and efforts by the chemical industry to mislead leaders from communities of color on the science and hazards of the chemicals.
Arlene Blum PhD, co-author of study, Executive Director and Founder, Green Science Policy Institute 510 644-3164, Arlene@GreenSciencePolicy.org.Dr. Blum, a chemist, has been studying and working on halogenated flame retardant chemicals sine the 1970's, when her research persuaded officials to remove chlorinated tris from children's pajamas. She can describe global aspects of HFR contamination, as well as efforts in the U.S. and California.
Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of California, 916 498-9608 holober@consumercal.org. Richard can address the dilemma California business and consumers have trying to make and buy safer products without halogenated flame retardant chemicals.

Daniel Jacobsen, Legislative Director, Environment California, 916 446-8062 x 105.

Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, 415 875 6126, sjanssen@nrdc.org. Dr. Janssen can address health effects linked to flame retardant chemicals exposure.

Judy Levin, MSW. Pollution Prevention Co-Director, Center for Environmental Health. 510 655-3900 x316,  cell , 510 697-3947, judy@cehca.org . Judy can discuss environmental health impacts on children and CEH efforts to change the CA regulation TB 117.

Russell Long, Board Member, Friends of the Earth, 415 302-4824, russelllong@me.com. Russell can talk about the Consumer Products Safety Commission stance on standards involving flame retardants, and also can address past legislative efforts in CA to restrict the chemicals.

Victoria Rome, deputy director of California advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council. 415 875-6125. vrome@nrdc.org. Victoria can discuss the policy of flame retardants in California

Renee Sharp, MS. California Director and Senior Scientist, Environmental Working Group. Office: 510 444-0973 x302, Cell: 510-410-9196, renee@ewg.org. Renee can address the health effects linked to flame retardant chemicals and their presence in the human body, dust, and wildlife.

Andria Ventura, Toxics Program Manager, Clean Water Action, 415-369-9166, aventura@cleanwater.org. Andria Ventura can address the emergence of flame retardants in our water resources and the difficulty in addressing the contamination.