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Originally published Friday, February 10, 2012 at 11:59 PM

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WA Senate OKs weakened flame retardant bill

The Washington state Senate passed a bill Friday to ban one potentially cancer-causing flame retardant from kids' products but not another that is more widely used.

Associated Press

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

The Washington state Senate passed a bill Friday to ban one potentially cancer-causing flame retardant from kids' products but not another that is more widely used.

In its original form, the bill would have banned chlorinated Tris, a flame retardant used in children's pajamas in the 1970s but voluntarily taken off the market by manufacturers over health concerns. It has since returned to use, primarily as a fire retardant in polyurethane foam, a highly flammable but cost-effective component of many children's products.

An amendment that cleared the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday by one vote removed the chlorinated Tris ban from the bill. It also did away with a requirement that makers of children's products containing potentially hazardous chemicals including Tris chemicals, formaldehyde and bisphenol A identify safer chemicals or materials for use.

The bill now consists of a ban on TCEP, a form of Tris the chemical industry says hasn't been used in the U.S. for years. The amendment to the bill was championed by Citizens for Fire Safety, an entity promoting the chemical industry's interests. It was also supported by the American Chemistry Council.

Messages left with both organizations Friday evening were not returned.

The three Democratic senators voting with all eight Republicans to amend the bill were Brian Hatfield of Raymond, Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Nick Harper of Everett. Tom and Harper were co-sponsors of the original bill.

"Having kids not catch on fire is a good thing," said Hatfield, who introduced the amendment.

Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, campaign director for the Washington Toxics Coalition, said that some makers of children's products comply with federal and California flame-retardant standards without the use of potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

"We are disappointed," said Sager-Rosenthal, who advocated for the measure's passage. "Under this bill, kids will still be exposed to chlorinated Tris."

A recent study by the Washington Toxics Coalition found that 16 of 20 baby and children's products tested - including car seats, changing pads and bassinets - contained large amounts of chlorinated Tris.

American Chemistry Council spokesman Bryan Goodman said last month that banning chlorinated Tris would be premature given that Washington state's Department of Ecology has yet to weigh in on its safety.

Last July, California's Environmental Protection Agency added chlorinated Tris to that state's list of known carcinogens, citing multiple two-year studies showing "statistically significant increases in the incidence of benign and malignant tumors" in both male and female lab rats exposed to the chemical.

Companies found to be using chlorinated Tris in their baby and children products include Toys R Us, Graco, Britax and Summer Infant.

The bill, SB 6120, passed on the Senate floor by a vote of 41-6. It goes next to the House, where a bill identical to the original Senate bill died in the Environment Committee.

In other floor action, the House and Senate each passed bills that would allow Indian tribes to ask the state to give up its jurisdiction over most civil and criminal matters regarding tribal members and reservation land. The sponsors of HB 2233 and SB 6147 will decide which bill will go forward in the other chamber.

Until 1953, tribes shared such jurisdiction with the federal government. That year, Congress delegated the duties to some states, including Washington.

The House also passed a bill that would allow minors to register to vote at age 16 when applying for a driver's license. The voting age would remain at age 18. The bill, HB 2205, will be forwarded to the Senate.

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Jonathan Kaminsky can be reached at http://twitter.com/jekaminsky

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