Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Chemical Company Sues California Over New Flame Retardant Law

Health + Wellness
Chemical Company Sues California Over New Flame Retardant Law

The chemical company Chemtura sued the state of California yesterday seeking to block new fire safety regulations that would permit furniture production without toxic flame retardants.

Concerned over potential profit loss, since California holds enormous purchasing power—almost 10 percent of the U.S. population—Chemtura sued the state.

The new rules, which Gov. Brown (D-CA) put into force last November would allow furniture manufacturers to meet California’s fire safety standards without using fire retardants chemicals, including those manufactured by Chemtura.

"This lawsuit is a blatant attempt to protect the company's profits under the guise of concern for public safety," said Renee Sharp, Environmental Working Group's (EWG) director of research. "If successful, this lawsuit would undermine one of the most important environmental and public health victories of 2013—Gov. Brown’s move to revamp the state's outdated and problematic fire safety standards."  

"Previous fire safety rules did not effectively protect us from fire dangers, but they did contaminate our bodies and those of our children with chemicals linked to cancer and other serious dangers to health,” Sharp said.

The new regulations are expected to have a significant impact nationwide for Chemtura’ future profits because California—with 10 percent of the U.S. population—has so much purchasing power that most furniture makers fabricate their products to comply with the state’s flammability standards.

In 2012, as he began to overhaul the state’s fire safety law, Gov. Brown cited a groundbreaking 2008 EWG study that found that concentrations of fire retardants in children’s blood three times higher than in their mothers’ blood. The reason: children typically play on the floor and come into contact with fire retardant chemicals shed by treated foam furniture.

EWG has been investigating the toxicity of fire retardants in furniture since 2003. That year, EWG tests found one class of toxic fire retardants called PBDEs in the breast milk of 20 American mothers at an average concentration 75 times higher than in European mothers. This dramatic difference was attributed to California’s inflexible fire safety rules. The state legislature subsequently banned PBDEs, and several other states enacted their own restrictions. Eventually PBDEs were phased out across the U.S., but use of other fire retardants continued unabated.

Recently, tests by scientists and consumer advocates found that California’s fire safety rules had triggered widespread use of chemical fire retardants in couches, car seats, changing table pads and other baby products across the country. Chlorinated tris has replaced PBDEs in many cases, even though California regulators have formally labeled this chemical as a carcinogen. Firemaster 550, another replacement for PBDEs, is suspected of disrupting the hormone system.

The new California regulations will allow manufacturers to use safer technologies such as fire-resistant fabrics in place of chemically treated foam. Baby products will no longer be required to contain fire retardants, since they are deemed unlikely to cause a serious house fire.

Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH page for more related news on this topic.

Pexels

By Jessica Corbett

A new study is shedding light on just how much ice could be lost around Antarctica if the international community fails to urgently rein in planet-heating emissions, bolstering arguments for bolder climate policies.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that over a third of the area of all Antarctic ice shelves — including 67% of area on the Antarctic Peninsula — could be at risk of collapsing if global temperatures soar to 4°C above pre-industrial levels.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Valley of the Gods in the heart of Bears Ears National Monument. Mint Images / Getty Images

By Sharon Buccino

This week, Secretary Haaland chose a visit to Bears Ears National Monument as her first trip as Interior Secretary. She is spending three days in Bluff, Utah, a small town just outside the monument, listening to representatives of the five tribes who first proposed its designation to President Obama in 2015. This is the same town where former Secretary Sally Jewell spent several hours at a public hearing in July 2016 before recommending the monument's designation to President Obama.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Pexels

By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Read More Show Less
"Secrets of the Whales" is a new series that will start streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day. Disney+

In celebration of Earth Day, a star-studded cast is giving fans a rare glimpse into the secret lives of some of the planet's most majestic animals: whales. In "Secrets of the Whales," a four-part documentary series by renowned National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry and Executive Producer James Cameron, viewers plunge deep into the lives and worlds of five different whale species.

Read More Show Less
Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

Read More Show Less