Monday, December 21, 2009

EPA Deal to Phase Out Toxic Flame Retardants

Good news -- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has struck a deal to phase out toxic flame retardants, which we've blogged about here due to their threats to human health and the environment alike:

Negotiations between the Environmental Protection Agency and manufacturers of toxic flame-retardant chemicals will result in a three-year phase-out of the last polybrominated diphenyl ether, the deca form.

Steve Owens, EPA’s assistant administrator in the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, had this to say in a news release today:

“Though DecaBDE has been used as a flame retardant for years, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has long been concerned about its impact on human health and the environment. Studies have shown that decaBDE persists in the environment, potentially causes cancer and may impact brain function. DecaBDE also can degrade to more toxic chemicals that are frequently found in the environment and are hazardous to wildlife.

“Today’s announcement by these companies to phase out decaBDE is an appropriate and responsible step to protect human health and the environment.”

Alarms bells have been sounding over PBDEs for several years. Concerns relate to liver and thyroid disease, neurological development and potential effects on the immune and reproductive systems.

Because they are persistent in the environment, these chemicals have (even) been accumulating in the tissues of the familiar killer whales that frequent Puget Sound (near Seattle).

I can't tell you how happy I am about this as both a father and a pet owner -- I'll sleep easier at night.  This phasing out of PBDE's will certainly save me time having to search for furniture and other home products that I can trust to be safe.

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