In a bipartisan victory for children's health, the New York State Assembly passed A. 9045, which expands the Tris-free Children and Babies Act to include the form of tris (TDCPP) that was removed from children's sleepwear in 1979 because it can mutate DNA. Studies have since shown that TDCPP can harm the developing brain, disrupt hormones, and cause cancer. The State of California’s Carcinogen Identification Council has determined it is a carcinogen. The diverse collaboration of health-affected organizations, environmental justice groups, teachers, nurses, business leaders and environmental health organizations, known as the JustGreen Partnership, praised the bill's passage, and urged the New York Senate to follow suit.
“I am proud to have accomplished one of my legislative priorities with the strong bi-partisan passage of the expanded Tris-free Children and Babies Act,” said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair and bill sponsor. “New York must continue its leadership on this important issue and ensure babies and children no longer suffer continual exposure to TDCPP.”
Senator Mark Grisanti sponsors matching legislation in the Senate, after championing the Tris-free Children and Babies Act through its passage in that house last year. New York is the first in the nation to address the problem of Tris chemicals being used in children's products. Several other states, including Washington, Maryland and Connecticut, are following suit this year with tris phaseout legislation.
“In 2011, I proudly sponsored the law that banned TCEP in children's products from being sold in New York,” said Senator Mark Grisanti, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair. “As I said at that time, we need to do more in the area of protecting our children from harmful chemicals. I am delighted to see bi-partisan support from my colleagues in the Assembly in the ban on TDCPP in products for infants and children. I hope to see that same bipartisanship in the Senate with support for the passage of matching legislation I sponsor. Removing TDCPP from baby products will help make babies' home environments healthier.”
“This is one step closer to NYS recognizing that we can support our business leaders’ ability to innovate and provide the safer and healthier products that consumers are demanding. This is a win for our businesses and our NYS economy,” said David Levine, CEO, American Sustainable Business Council, representing through its members over 100,000 businesses.
TDCPP is widely used in polyurethane foam used in children's products. A study from Duke University found TDCPP in 36% of baby products. A report released earlier this year by the Washington Toxics Coalition found TDCPP in 80% of the products tested.
TDCPP is added in order to meet an antiquated, and ultimately ineffectual, California-only regulation known as “Technical Bulletin 117.” In fact, despite being marketed as a flame retardant, TDCPP as used in foam-containing infant and children's products provides no fire safety benefit – and when it burns, it releases chlorine gas, which quickly converts to lethal hydrochloric acid in the lungs. It also releases more carbon monoxide and soot in fires than products that don't contain these chemicals.
“It’s hard to believe that the same chlorinated Tris flame retardant that our research helped remove from baby pajamas in 1977 is back in use in children's products.” said Arlene Blum, PhD, a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley Chemistry Department and Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. “These children's products do not pose a fire hazard and the Tris increases the toxicity of a fire if they were to burn.”
“Infant and children’s product makers’ insistence on complying everywhere to a useless, outdated California-only standard has put New York’s babies and children in a lose-lose situation: they lose by being exposed to a toxic chemical day in and day out, and they lose because they’re accruing no actual fire safety benefit. By banning TDCPP in babies’ and children's products, the Assembly has taken an important step toward a much healthier, safer environment for our kids,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York.
“The International Association of Fire Fighters supported the phase-out of pentaBDE because of the harm it posed to fire fighters and building occupants alike, with a call for less-toxic fire safety methods. Now it appears companies simply switched from one dangerous chemical to another,” said Dennis Sweeney, Health and Safety Training Coordinator for the New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association. “Protecting fire fighters and building occupants from fire is critical, and we can and must do it without exposing babies and children to chemicals that harm their health. Companies can and must make safe products without cancer-causing chemicals that release toxic gases when they burn.”
“Children of color and those in low-income communities are subjected to health threats from many environmental factors,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of WEACT for Environmental Justice, based in Harlem. “Adding the insult of daily indoor exposure to cancer-causing chemicals makes no sense. Then factor in the increased difficulty of exiting a large building during a fire, when the smoke becomes more lethal, and the picture is clear: TDCPP has no place in products for our kids. We thank the Assembly for their action, and urge the Senate to act with all due haste.”
"The dirty little secret is that toxic flame retardants like TRIS don't provide additional fire safety, increase environmental hazards for fire fighters and expose children to toxic chemicals. The only beneficiaries appear to be the chemical manufacturers," said Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel for NYPIRG. "The Assembly has done its job, now it's up to the Senate to protect New York's children from this toxic exposure."