Take Action – Remove Toxic Flame Retardants from Kids’ Products

Children in California are exposed to a huge burden of flame-retardant chemicals. Photo: © Suprijono Suharjoto - Fotolia.com

In California, babies and young children are exposed to toxic flame-retardant chemicals in their clothing, sheets, and other materials nearly every minute of every day. Healthy Child Healthy World has launched a campaign urging citizens to send faxes TODAY to Governor Schwarzenegger and other government officials with a strong message in favor of SB 772. According to Christopher Gavigan, CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, the bill would “exempt baby and juvenile products from California’s regulations that create a de facto mandate for the use of toxic fire retardant chemicals.”

On the surface, fire retardants in children’s clothing, bedding, strollers, infant carriers, changing tables, cribs, high chairs, and other products sound like a good idea. We all want children to be protected from flames. But Gavigan points out the flaws in this reasoning:

Children's bedding sold in California must contain flame retardants, which are potentially hazardous. Photo: © Thomas Perkins - Fotolia.com

Children's bedding sold in California must contain flame retardants, which are potentially hazardous. Photo: © Thomas Perkins - Fotolia.com

There is no clear data showing that using these chemicals saves lives, and a growing body of research suggests that exposure to fire retardants is dangerous to the health of our children. Last year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission scientists cited studies linking fire retardant exposure to cancer, birth defects, reproductive problems, thyroid disorders, hyperactivity, learning disabilities and a plethora of other health concerns.

A study published last year in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that Californians have twice the concentration of the flame retardant penta-BDE in their blood as people who live elsewhere in the United States due to the continued, and long-lasting presence of these chemicals in baby products and other home furnishings.

There is no evidence that a single baby‘s life has been saved by California’s regulation, which is why the Consumer Product Safety Commission has decided not to regulate baby products against fire. Given the stark budget realities, it makes no sense for the State to be spending its limited resources to regulate a product for which there is no known risk.

Worse yet, chemical lobbyists are trying to convince the California legislature to require even more products to carry these same toxic fire retardants. (Don’t the lobbyists care about children’s health?) We must not stand back and watch this happen. The health and well-being of California’s children is at stake. And this is one cause of ill health that’s totally preventable.

How to Help

The most powerful effort you can make to sway the opinions of Governor Schwarzenegger and California legislators is to write a personal letter telling why this bill is important. Gavigan urges concerned citizens to use his words above as the basis of your letters. Or, before you write, visit the Healthy Child Healthy World website to read more in-depth information about this topic.

If you are a Californian, your letter will be especially meaningful to the Governor and your legislators. If you live elsewhere, your thoughtful, information-filled letter may still be helpful. (Can’t hurt.) Write about the regulations in your own state or country. Let everyone know that we don’t need to overload our kids with chemicals to keep them safe from fire. We end up trading protection from a rare problem for a universal threat to all young children. That’s not a good bargain.

Gavigan invites you to fax your letters to the following:

The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

1. Attn: Bismarck Obando, External Affairs Secretary #: 916-324-6358

2. Cabinet #: 916-323-0918

3. Chief of Staff #: 916-323-9991

4. Communications #: 916-324-6357

5. Constituent Affairs #: 916-445-4633

6. Attn: Linda Adams, Secretary CalEPA #: 916-324-0908

7. Attn: Maziar Movassaghl, Department of Toxic Substances Control #: 916-324-3158

This is a critically important opportunity to protect millions of California’s children from the potentially harmful effects of unnecessary chemicals.

Don’t have access to a fax machine? Fax from your laptop or desktop computer with this free online fax service.

I live in Iowa, but I’ll be faxing letters in support of SB 772. I’ll also spread the word to my family and friends. Will you join me?

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)