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State Law Bans Flame Retardants, Puts Heat On Companies That Make Baby Products

Harvey Barrison
Flickr via Creative Commons
The Washington state Capitol in Olympia

Washington continues to pave the way for regulation of toxic chemicals with a new state law. It bans five flame retardants used in furniture and children’s products and pushes manufacturers to change their practices.

The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act knocks out five of the worst flame retardants and sets up a process for the Departments of Health and Ecology to make recommendations on six others. Flame retardants are used in everything from baby bouncers to sofa cushions.

Advocates say they cause cancer and brain damage. Laurie Valeriano, the executive director of Washington Toxics Coalition says manufacturers are slowly moving away from flame retardants.

“We do see that. We do see companies coming forward saying we’re not going to use flame retardants – any flame retardants to meet flammability standards and this law is continuing to push the manufacturers in that right direction,” she said.

Valeriano says it’s a nail in the coffin for this set of flame retardants, but they’ll need to keep a close watch to make sure any replacement chemicals don’t end up being just as bad -- or worse.