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EPA to Study Flame Retardant Chemicals. Finally.


Science & Tech  (tags: scientists, study, science, safety, society, research, health, investigation, environment )

JL
- 382 days ago - motherjones.com
The EPA announced this week that it will study the health and environmental risks of 23 chemicals, with an emphasis on chemical flame retardants that are found in many common products.



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JL A. (269)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 10:01 am


Mother Jones
EPA to Study Flame Retardant Chemicals. Finally.
Chemicals linked to cancer and neurological impairment will get an in-depth look. It's about time.

By Kate Sheppard | Fri Mar. 29, 2013 9:46 AM PDT

The EPA announced this week [1] that it will study the health and environmental risks of 23 chemicals, with an emphasis on chemical flame retardants that are found in many common products.

Even though they were phased out of baby clothes back in the 1970s due to health concerns, flame retardants are still used in baby cribs and car seats [2], couches [3], and electronics [4]. Many have been linked to cancer and neurological and developmental problems, particularly in children [5]. And we use so much of them that they're turning up in our food [6], too.

The EPA's announcement came just as a new study found extremely high levels of flame retardant chemicals on airplanes [7]—"some of the highest measurements I've ever seen," according to the paper's co-author. This is less of a concern for airline passengers than it is for the pilots and flight attendants, but it does raise questions about yet another way we're being exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals.

The EPA plans to evaluate [8] four common flame retardants—TBB, TBPH, TCEP, and HBCD—under the Toxic Substances Control Act [9] (TSCA), the 37-year-old law governing chemical regulation. As we've reported here before [10], that law is both weak and outdated, an issue that the EPA noted in its announcement on Wednesday:

"EPA is committed to more fully understanding the potential risks of flame retardant chemicals, taking action if warranted, and identifying safer substitutes when possible," said James J. Jones, Acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "Though today’s announcement represents a significant step forward on chemical safety, it's important to remember that TSCA, this country’s chemicals management legislation, remains in dire need of reform in order to ensure that all Americans are protected from toxic chemicals in their environment."

TSCA reform advocates point to flame retardants as an example of why current chemical regulations are a total failure. EPA is just now evaluating their safety, after decades of human exposure to these chemicals. "Flame retardants have become exhibit A for our nation's failed chemical policy," said Andy Igrejas, executive director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. "Many have have turned out to be very toxic, and yet they have found their way into our homes and our bodies through their use in consumer products."
Source URL: http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/03/epa-flame-retardant-chemicals-tsca

Links:
[1] http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/c6be79994c3fd08785257b3b0054e2fa?OpenDocument
[2] http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/05/rockabye-baby-flame-retardant-foam
[3] http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/11/couch-flame-retardants-cancer-toxic
[4] http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/05/how-big-tobacco-and-big-chemical-partnered-put-toxic-chemicals-your-home
[5] http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/05/flame-retardants-minority-kids
[6] http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/05/flame-retardants-now-your-food
[7] http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2013/airliner-flame-retardants
[8] http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/2013wpractivities.html
[9] http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/laws/tsca.html
[10] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2010/09/bp-ocean-dispersant-corexit
 

Christeen Anderson (422)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 1:15 pm
Better late than never. Thank you.
 

Terry V. (30)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 3:00 pm
Everything is polluted by humans.

Pollution is a Global Killer
 

Angelika R. (143)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 3:40 pm
About damn time! thx JL
 

Kit B. (277)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 3:50 pm

Oh, the EPA is going to look into this. I don't think I'll be holding my breath as most of these are either carbon or petrochemical bases. The EPA is now deeply in bed with these groups, so why should expect more than a cursory warning about something we have known about for decades? Yep, I have become very cynical about government agencies that, once upon a time we could give our trust.
 

JL A. (269)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 3:57 pm
You are welcome Christeen and Angelika. Thanks for posting the link to the marvelous short video Terry!
When led by someone intent on interfering with an agency's mission, the agency lives with many dysfunctional impacts from that appointee's decisions long after they have been replaced. I hope the changes begun under Jackson can continue to return them to functional/
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Michael Kirkby (81)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 4:37 pm
I'll just say noted Kit. Thanks. I have a project that I'm going to do sometime when I have time. Just for fun I'm going to go to three major shopping chains and write down the products and contents and then look them up on the internet. I've already got a good idea of what I'll find.
 

Tamara Noforwardsplz (185)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 5:15 pm
Well aren't they just Johnny on the spot! I am with Kit on this one. I will not hold my breath for any earth shattering news from the EPA. Thanks J L.
 

JL A. (269)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 5:25 pm
You are welcome Michael and Tamara.
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Theodore Shayne (56)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 5:57 pm
Ooooh I'm so underwhelmed I won't hold my breath. The EPA has joined the ranks of the compromised along with the FDA and the USDA.
 

Carol D. (98)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 7:24 am
Chemicals all the time I remember awhile ago when they had to take sofas out of the shops because people were getting skin burns from the chemicals in them

Thanks noted
 

Sandra Patterson (60)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 11:18 am
Will wait and see,noted
 

JL A. (269)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 11:20 am
You are welcome Carol.
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Nils Anders Lunde (479)
Thursday April 4, 2013, 12:38 am
Noted
 
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