Today’s Federal Register contains a notice from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that everyone should read. In two pages, the CPSC warns consumers that dozens of related chemicals, called organohalogens (including the brominated flame retardants, BFRs), are too toxic to be used in baby products and home furnishings any longer.
These toxic and highly persistent chemicals have been foisted on the public for decades by chemical manufacturers as flame retardants, although their ability to actually increase fire safety is marginal at best. Unfortunately, while this class of chemicals lacks fire safety ability, it is increasingly proving its ability to cause health harms to people and wildlife, something the chemical industry continues to deny.
CPSC’s public warning notice recommends that manufacturers, importers and retailers stop using or selling products containing those flame retardants.
The consumer product categories discussed in the warning notice are:
- Children’s toys and child care articles;
- Mattresses and mattress pads;
- Upholstered household furniture (the CPSC does not have jurisdiction over office furniture, but the flame retardants aren’t any safer in those);
- The outer plastic casings for electronics (as opposed to the inner workings on electronics).
Here is part of what CPSC says about the recognized health risks posed by these toxic flame retardants:
“The known adverse health effects of these chemicals to consumers include: reproductive impairment (e.g., abnormal gonadal development, reduced number of ovarian follicles, reduced sperm count, increased time to pregnancy); neurological impacts (e.g., decreased IQ in children, impaired memory, learning deficits, altered motor behavior, hyperactivity); endocrine disruption and interference with thyroid hormone action (potentially contributing to diabetes and obesity); genotoxicity; cancer; and immune disorders. These chemicals have a disproportionately negative health effect on vulnerable…