Senate Subcommittee Holding Hearing on Flame Retardants

Emphasizes need to strengthen chemical safety protections for public


Andrea Delgado, Earthjustice, (202) 230-6592

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) will hold a hearing to address the dangers of flame retardant chemicals and the effectiveness of furniture flammability standards that require the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products. Senator Durbin is chairman of the Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee and co-sponsor of Senator Frank Lautenberg’s (D-NJ) Safe Chemicals Act (S.847). Earthjustice applauds Senator Durbin for taking meaningful steps to raise awareness about the need for stronger chemical safety laws that protect Americans from toxic chemicals.

Most chemical flame retardants are toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer, developmental, neurological and reproductive problems. Flame retardants are used in building materials, electronics, furnishings (including those used by infants and children), motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics and textiles.

Joining Senator Durbin are 24 additional senators, including three Republicans, Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address the dangers of toxic chemicals in flame retardants. While the EPA has drafted rules that would restrict the use of one type of flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), the administration has delayed them for months, giving a breather to the chemical industry instead of acting on crucial consumer protections.

“Whether it is a baby crib, nursing pillows or electronics, Americans deserve to know that the products they are bringing into their homes will not jeopardize the health and well-being of their families,” said Earthjustice attorney Eve Gartner. “The fact that so many everyday products we use contain toxic flame retardants that are not even effective at reducing the spread of fire highlights the fact that we desperately need to revamp our nation’s chemical safety law. The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act has failed to protect us from harmful chemicals, allowing dangerous chemicals to enter the market and our households without thorough assessments of the health risks.”

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