Our favorite guest blogger, VLS alum Maricarmen Cruz-Guilloty, Environmental Health and Justice Coordinator at Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), reports that the Alaska Legislature will consider a bill about toxic chemicals in children’s products in 2014. Senator Donny Olson, representing the Bering Straits/Interior villages, introduced the Toxic-Free Children’s Act (SB 151) to protect children from toxic flame retardants in products. The bill focuses on a class of chemicals known as tris flame retardants, which are known to cause cancer, neurological damage, and reproductive harm. In the 1970’s, use of chlorinated tris was discontinued in baby sleepwear due to its carcinogenicity. But recently it’s been found in such baby and children’s products as nap mats, nursing pillows, car seats, and play tents.
With the introduction of the Toxic-Free Children’s Act, Alaska joins other states passing statutes to protect children from toxic chemical exposure. States see he federal law, TSCA, as ineffective because it doesn’t reach many chemicals associated with cancer, learning disabilities, and reproductive problems that are commonly used in children’s products. If passed, the Alaska bill would create a list of chemicals of “high concern” for children’s health and phase out toxic tris flame retardant chemicals from children’s products.
In support of the bill, ACAT sponsored a teleconference on February 5th featuring Arlene Blum Ph.D., author, mountaineer, and founder of the Green Science Policy Institute, for a discussion of the health effects of flame retardant chemicals and the likely impacts of California’s new furniture flammability standard. California Governor Jerry Brown announced the standard in November, and it has since become the de facto standard for manufacturers across the US and Canada. Questions abound about whether California will succeed in shifting manufacturers away from tris flame retardants.