Bipartisan Action Shows That Children’s Health Knows No Political Bounds
Albany, NY –In Tuesday’s NYS Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, children’s health advocates awaited a debate on legislation that would expand last year’s law banning a chemical known as TCEP from children’s products. The new legislation would include an additional toxic chemical, TDCPP, in the ban. Both chemicals are commonly called “chlorinated tris” chemicals. What they saw surprised and encouraged them: unanimous, bipartisan advancement of the legislation through the committee.
“The New York State Legislature led the way in 2011 by passing a bill I sponsored, the Tris-Free Children and Babies Act, the first of its kind in the nation. Although this was an important first step in protecting children from TCEP, one form of toxic Tris, it's clear that there is more work to be done to protect children from carcinogenic TDCPP, which is widely used and harmful,” said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair. "Why would we allow a chemical banned from children's sleepwear because of its toxicity to be used in other nursery items? This legislation is one of my priorities for 2012," Sweeney added.
Of the popular baby products tested recently, including nursing pillows and car seats, 80% contain TDCPP, which is linked to cancer, hormone disruption, neurological problems and other health effects, according to a new report authored by the Washington Toxics Coalition. Children and families are exposed to these Tris chemicals when they escape from products and contaminate house dust and indoor air. TDCPP, marketed as a flame retardant, was classified as a carcinogen by the State of California in 2011.
The Legislation is sponsored by Senate Environmental Conservation Committee chair Mark Grisanti, a Republican, and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert Sweeney, a Democrat. Despite this clear bipartisan leadership, advocates were concerned that the chemical industry front group, which calls itself “Citizens for Fire Safety,” would manipulate some legislators into voting against the measure by misrepresenting the issue to them.
“Despite chemical makers’ claims, there is no proven fire safety from adding these chemicals to products for children ages three and under. These are not sources of ignition. But adding Tris needlessly exposes them to cancer causing chemicals,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and Director of the National Campaign for Toxic Free Fire Safety. “Even worse, once a fire does start, and these chemicals burn, their presence makes smoke more toxic, and escape much more difficult. Using Tris is a lose-lose situation for our families. There is no up side.”
Children’s health advocates in the JustGreen Partnership are calling on the New York State Legislature to expand last year’s Tris-free Children and Babies Act, which banned TCEP (one form of Tris) in children’s products beginning January 1, 2013. They cheered the bi-partisan support for inclusion of TDCPP.
“Toxic chemicals have no business in products we bring into our homes, especially in items for kids who are more vulnerable to chemical exposures. Makers of children’s products need to ensure they do not contain chemicals that harm children’s health,” said David Carpenter, MD, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environmental at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health. “Early childhood exposure to cancer-causing chemicals can have lifelong consequences.”
“Protecting fire fighters and building occupants from fire is critical, but we can and must do it without exposing children to chemicals that harm their health. It is possible to make safe products without cancer-causing flame retardants, which produce lethal dioxins and furans when they burn,” said Dennis Sweeney, Health and Safety Training Coordinator for the New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association.
“Once again the New York State Assembly is providing the leadership in working to ban toxic and cancer-causing chemicals from everyday consumer products, particularly those that infants, toddlers and young children use,” said Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). In their body of work, Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Sweeney and his colleagues are showing the leadership that is sorely lacking in Congress. When other states follow New York’s lead, the tide will ultimately turn in Congress.”