Committee on Children

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5035

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING TOXIC FIRE RETARDANTS IN CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS.

Vote Date:

3/11/2014

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/6/2014

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Committee on Children

REASONS FOR BILL:

In response to concerns that fire retardants in children's products are toxic and pose a serious health hazard to young children with their immature organ systems and state of rapid body growth, this bill would ban any product containing the flame retardant chemical TDCPP, TDCP, TCEP or TCPP marketed for the use of children three years of age or younger.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Jewel Mullen, Commission, Connecticut Department of Public Health: Supports. The group of chlorinated Tris flame retardants in bill is associated with carcinogenic activity and damage to internal organs including male testes at high dose. A federal Consumer Product Safety Commission found that children can contact Tris flame retardants via inhalation and dust ingestion, aside from absorption across skin. While supporting the bill, DPH notes that responsibility for testing and enforcing the provisions of the bill would fall to the Department of Consumer Protection and possibly would require the addition of one inspector and an appropriation of $50,000 annually for lab testing fees.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Michelle Noehren, Events and Special Projects Director, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women: The Commission fully supports the bill, reiterating the research that shows tris to be a carcinogen and hormone disruptor. According to Hidden Hazards in the Nursery report, products containing toxic tris products include breastfeeding support pillows, car seats and diaper changing pads, among others.

Abraham Scarr, Director, Connecticut Public Interest Research Group (ConnPIRG): The chemicals banned by this bill are used as fire retardants, yet evidence suggests they are not effective for this purpose. Use of these chemicals puts children needlessly at risk.

Anne Hulick, Co-Director, CT Clean Water Action and Coordinator, Coalition for a Safe and Healthy CT: She notes the research that shows tris is “mutagenic, meaning it causes changes to DNA in the cells which can lead to cancers of the kidneys, liver and testicles. It is also a hormone disruptor and neurotoxin.” “Research also suggests that there is virtually no fire-safety benefit to the use of these chemicals.” Tris was removed from children's pajamas in the 1970s due to health concerns. According to research, “childhood cancers have increased by more than 20% since 1975.”

Susan Eastwood, Director of Communication and Outreach, CT Clean Water Action: There is an overwhelming body of scientific research that links exposure to toxic chemicals in everyday products with the rising incidence of many serious diseases. She notes that “cancer or infertility may take decades to manifest,” and wonders what she unknowingly exposed her now-grown children to. We have the right to know what chemicals are in products we buy.

Louis W. Burch, Program Coordinator, Citizens Campaign for the Environment: Ms. She notes the research on the toxic effects of tris and their “potential for long-range transport”. These Tris chemicals are possible carcinogens and pose particular risk to fetuses and small children. She suggests protecting all children under twelve.

Teresa Eickel, Executive Director, Interreligious Eco-Justice Network: In past 40 years, 80,000 chemicals were introduced to our commerce. To illustrate the increase in cancers and other diseases, she outlines friends and family members who have been stricken with cancer, including her own experience. Eliminating these carcinogenic chemicals can cut cancer rates.

Nancy Alderman, President, Environment and Human Health, Inc.: Ms. Alderman supports the bill. She is, however, concerned that manufacturers will “simply put another toxic flame retardant in its place.” She notes research that shows these flame retardants are building up quickly in people's bodies, especially children. Dr. Birnbaum, Director of the National Institutes of Health has said “there is no question that the chemicals are altering thyroid hormones.” During fetal development, this can affect how the brain functions.

John Wargo, Ph.D., School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University: Cites the “risk to the normal growth and development of fetuses, infants, and small children” found by recent studies. The highest concentrations of these chemicals are found in children, and that such chemicals can cross through the placenta during pregnancy. Dr. Wargo is also concerned that without a “health protective standard for all flame-retardants” the industry will substitute tris for something that is equally toxic. He wants more rigorous health testing for all flame retardants before they are added to children's products.

Testimony was offered by the following people in support of the need for tris fire retardant chemicals to be removed from children's products:

Ann H. Berman, Milford, CT: We have the right to know what is in the products we purchase for our kids. Please do not let it take years to recognize these hazardous chemicals that are in too many of our children's products.

Joyce Acebo-Raguskus, Milford, CT: This bill will help in reduction of exposures to toxic chemicals, known to be associated with children's diseases and disorders which are on the rise.

Roberta Silbert, MPH, Guilford, CT: Supports bill as an important step in protecting our youngest and most vulnerable children from exposure to toxic chemicals that can harm. Mounting toxicological evidence shows that many of these chemicals are carcinogenic.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Thomas G. Osimitz, Ph.D.: Speaking on behalf of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). In contrast to other molecules to which it is related and with which it is often discussed, TCPP is not considered neurotoxic nor is it toxic to the reproductive system. TCPP has been through all required health and safety testing procedures and is approved for use worldwide.

Reported by: Megan Clayton, Asst. Clerk and Elizabeth S. Giannaros, Clerk

Date: 03/19/2014