SELECT COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING TOXIC FIRE RETARDANTS IN CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS.
JOINT FAVORABLE SUBSTITUTE CHANGE OF REFERENCE TO ENVIRONMENT
SPONSORS OF BILL:
SELECT COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN
REASONS FOR BILL:
This bill aims to protect children from the harm caused by exposure to Tris (TDCPP, TDCP, TCEP or TCPP) as it used in children's products.
For Proposed Substitute Bill 5218 (as contained in LCO No. 2187): In line 5, deleted “or the parents or guardians of such children”. In line 6, deleted “car seat”. Deleted subsection (3) defining “tris.” Line 15 added “TDCPP, TDCP, TCEP, and TCPP”. Added “except for such products governed by federal motor vehicle standards contained in 49 CFR sections 571.213 and 571.302.
Amendment A: Line 1 – change the effective date from October 1, 2012 to October 1, 2014. Line 5 – delete the word “children's” before clothing.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Ellen Blaschinski, Branch Chief, Regulatory Services Branch 509-8171, Department of Public Health : “The group of chlorinated Tris flame retardants in the bill are associated with carcinogenic activity and damage to internal organs including male testes at high dose.” The Federal Consumer Products and Safety Commission assessed the risks from TDCPP and its presence in children's foam products was associated with elevated cancer and non-cancer risks. “While the data on exposure are limited, the CPSC report provides evidence that children could contact these chlorinated Tris flame retardants via inhalation and dust ingestion.” Evidence shows a high potential for children's exposure to toxic chlorinated Tris compounds in foam products that are currently on the market. State of Washington recently banned TCEP from children's products.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Michelle Noehren, Events & Special Projects Manager, Permanent Commision on the Status of Women: While there are clear reasons to ban this chemical for children's health, we are also here because mothers deserve the ability to purchase products for their children that are safe. Many mothers are not aware that such toxic substances are routinely used in common baby products. “For example, many mothers choose to breastfeed their children to enhance their baby's immune systems but at the same time they may also be unknowingly exposing their child to toxic chemicals by using breastfeeding support pillows.” Parents should be able to be confident that the products they use are safe.
Anne Hulick, RN, MS, JD, Coordinator, Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut: “Carcinogenic flame retardants have no place in children's products!” They are highly toxic chemicals. Coalition very concerned about rising incidence of childhood cancers. Cancer is 2nd leading cause of death for children under age of 20. Exposure to these carcinogens at such a young age is particularly concerning as infants and young children's organs are still developing, even into adolescence. (Ms. Hulick supplied as part of her testimony a copy of Hidden Hazards in the Nursery, a report by Washington Toxics Coalition).
Beka Apostolidis, RN, MS, Cromwell: In Strong Support. The presence of toxic flame retardants that are known carcinogens in children's products is shocking! Worse yet, is that research shows no significant fire safety benefit from the use of these chemicals. She has been a nurse for 16 years and is clinical faculty at UCONN where she teaches nursing students on the Oncology unit at Hartford Hospital. As a nurse and cancer survivor, know that the cause of cancer and many serious diseases is still unclear. But, more and more scientific research shows that exposure to toxic chemicals is linked to these diseases. Childhood cancer, particularly brain cancer and leukemia, has risen 20% in last 30 years. Cancer is now 2nd leading cause of death for people under age of 20.
Jennifer Allis Vazquez, RN, Intern, Connecticut Public Health Association: Supports legislation as it protects children's health and reduces exposure to these carcinogenic substances. The use of Tris flame-retardants is legal and unrestricted in the U.S. although individual states are beginning to place bans on chlorinated Tris and other Tris chemicals. California has place chlorinated Tris on its Proposition 65 list in 2011. TCEP was identified as a very high concern by the European Chemicals Agency in 2009 while Canada has identified it as a risk to human health in any dose and is considering a ban. New York signed a ban into law in 2011.
Pamela Puchalski, Project Coordinator, Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health: Supports. Council focuses on health and safety issues. These toxic chemicals that were once banned from use in children's clothing because they were known to be carcinogenic are back in commerce once again. These retardants actually create darker and more lethal smoke which is highly toxic. “Besides being potentially carcinogenic, the different variations of chlorinated Tris have also been linked to a variety of nervous system impairments such as seizures, memory loss, and learning problems.”
Dr. Mary Jane Williams, PhD, RN, Connecticut Nurses' Association: In strong support. Tris was used heavily during the 1970's and removed from the market only to reappear in 2006 as evidenced in imported products replacing penta-BDE. “TDCPP has not been thoroughly tested for health and safety, but the tests that have been conducted indicate that it is carcinogenic, may disrupt hormone levels, and may even be toxic to the nervous system.” It is our responsibility to educate the public to make safe choices for themselves and their families, as nurses are the largest group of health care providers. The development of sound “Preventive Health Legislation” will decrease the bottom line in our state budget.
Mark A. Mitchell, MD, MPH, Mitchell Environmental Health Associates: Supports bill. These chemicals have been shown to cause tumors in laboratory animals and are suspected endocrine disruptors. Flame retardants have not been shown to reduce the incidence of fires or significantly increase the time needed for a fire to spread in a burning building. Chlorinated chemicals contribute to the greatest killer in a fire – not fire itself, but the toxic fumes. There are safer chemicals and non-chemical substitutes for Tris that are effective in reducing fire deaths.
Susan Eastwood, Clean Water Action, and Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut: There are several variations of “chlorinated tris” flame retardants, including TDCCP, TCEP and TCPP. Both TCEP and TDCPP have recently been listed by California EPA as mutagenic and possible human carcinogens. TCEP is used in foam and has been shown to cause tumors in lab animals. It is no longer used in Europe and under consideration to be banned in Canada. The goal of fire prevention is a good one but other flame retarding materials may be used in place of foam such as wool, and other chemical flame retardants that are safer.
Joe Wasserman, Community Organizer, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice: TDCCP, which was banned from children's pajamas in the 1970s, now shows up in many products used by caretakers for infants, such as nursing pillows, changing mattresses and bassinettes. Parents are being kept in the dark as manufacturers are not required to report on the use of these substances. These chemicals off-gas, getting into air and house dust. “In fact, TDCCP has been detected in 96% of the dust collected in the Boston area.” These substances are disposed of at the end of their useful life and incinerated in landfills which are largely located in low income communities of color.
Joyce Acebo Raguskus, Milford: Infants and children are most vulnerable to these chemicals because as small and growing beings, they are exposed to these carinogens, neurotoxicity and hormone disruption.
Hacah Boros, RN, Plantsville: Supports bill. Tris was banned in the 1970's and has since been reintroduced into the market although the toxicity and danger to children's health has remained the same. Citing the “Hidden Hazards in the Nursery” report, she recognizes that these substances are known carcinogens and that there are safer alternatives that are not being used. Some products containing chlorinated-Tris include nursing pillows and infant changing pads. “I hope that Connecticut will continue to champion legislation to protect my daughter and my unborn child so that I will have one less toxic chemical to worry about.”
Alison Gilcreast, MPH, Plainville: Testifying as a mother of a young child and someone who recently experienced a house fire. If daughter's mattress, car seat, changing table pad, and other items in her bedroom contain Tris, then she's been exposed to this chemical every day since we brought her home from the hospital. “The EPA recently acknowledged that there is no evidence to substantiate claims that the use of certain flame retardants has resulted in a reduced incidence of fires.” Fire prevention education, smoke detectors and emergency plans are what prevents fires, not a cancer-causing chemical.
Mary Ellen Hobson, RN, MS, Southington: A nurse for 34 years. “The presence of known carcinogens in children's products is appalling!” “Exposure to these known carcinogens have long term influences on children's individual and collective health and cost us millions of dollars. CT has been a national leader on legislating bans on toxins such as BPA. We should be a leader in banning toxic flame retardants from children's products. Consider the long term implications of children's exposures and the broader end-use and disposal implications, as well.
Nicole M. Rawcliffe, Burlington: Supports the legislation as a mother of young children. As children spend most of their time crawling and playing on the floor where dust settles, they are ingesting flame retardant off gassing. “It is shocking and unacceptable that not only have these toxic flame retardants found their way back into children's products, but that manufacturers are not required to disclose their use of these flame retardants.”
Sangeeta Thapa, MSW, First Year Student, UCONN School of Social Work: Supports this legislation as a professional and mother of a 4 year old. She did her own research and was astounded to find 80% of children's products are treated with these toxins. She worries about toxic hazards in children's products. As public officials, you can ban the use of toxic fire retardants in children's products. New York has identified Tris as a danger and passed the “Tris-Free Children and Babies Act in 2011.”
Loyola Welsh, JD, Meriden: Supports bill because there are safer alternatives to these chemicals, no evidence exists that their use reduces fire incidence and they are probable causers of tumors, hyperactivity and reduced fertility. Children need to be protected from exposure to these chemicals.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Gordon l. Nelson, Florida Institute of Technology: “Upholstered furniture fire deaths still account for about 21% of U.S. total fire deaths. Overall California, a leader in fire safety of upholstered furniture, has one-half the death rate of the U.S. as a whole.” Regulation should be based on detailed risk assessment. “The three chemicals cited in the Act have undergone extensive risk assessment by EU authorities.” “Those risk assessments which were finalized in 2008 found no basis for restriction on use for TCPP and TDCP.” Since it would be illegal to sell or distribute children's products containing these compounds in Connecticut, how is a distributor or retailer to know? “Products come from a variety of sources. The definition of 'children's product' is vague.”
Bob Campbell, Chemtura Corporation, Middlebury: Opposes bill based on European Union's Evaluation of tris chlorophosphates. Flame retardants have already been through an official EU risk assessment under regulation 793/93 (EC). TCCPP and TDCP assessments were finalized in 2008 with no restriction on use. TCEP substance classified as CMR cat. 1-2 (REACH transitional system).
REPORTED BY: Laurel Ann Coleman, Assistant Clerk and Elizabeth S. Giannaros, Clerk
DATE: March 14, 2012