Wednesday, August 19, 2015

CPSC Considering Rulemaking on Upholstered Furniture and Other Products Containing Organohalogen Flame Retardants

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") has received a petition requesting that the CPSC initiate rulemaking under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act ("FHSA") to declare several categories of products containing additive organohalogen flame retardants to be "banned hazardous substances." The Commission invites written comments concerning the petition.

The petition was filed by Earthjustice and the Consumer Federation of America, which are joined by American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Women's Association, Consumers Union, Green Science Policy Institute, International Association of Fire Fighters, Kids in Danger, Philip Landrigan, M.D., M.P.H., League of United Latin American Citizens, Learning Disabilities Association of America, and Worksafe.

Petitioners assert that additive organohalogen flame retardants are used extensively in the consumer products categories that would be covered by their rulemaking request. Petitioners further assert that, based on the physico-chemical properties of additive organohalogen flame retardants, all such chemicals in this class will migrate out of consumer products and persist in the indoor environment. According to petitioners, because organohalogen flame retardants are, as a class, foreign to the human body and inherently toxic due to their physical, chemical, and biological properties, human exposure to these chemicals will result in adverse human health impacts. Finally, petitioners provide data and information regarding adverse human health impacts, which include reproductive impairment, neurological impacts, endocrine disruption and interference with thyroid hormone action, genotoxicity, cancer, and immune disorders.

Specifically addressed in the petition are:

  • Any durable infant or toddler product, children's toy, child care article, or other children's product (other than children's car seats) that contains additive organohalogen flame retardants,

  • Any article of upholstered furniture sold for use in residences and containing additive organohalogen flame retardants,

  • Any mattress or mattress pad with additive organohalogen flame retardants, and

  • Any electronic device with additive organohalogen flame retardants in its plastic casing.

Petitioners assert that declaring the specified categories of products containing additive organohalogen flame retardants to be "banned hazardous substances" is necessary to adequately protect public health and safety. More specifically, petitioners assert that action short of a ban under the FHSA would not adequately protect the public health and safety because warning labeling cannot adequately prevent or control exposure to flame retardants that migrate from products into homes. Furthermore, petitioners argue that the ban must apply to the entire class of additive organohalogen flame retardants because banning only individual chemicals within that class would allow other inherently toxic chemicals within that class to be used.

The CPSC must receive comments on the petition by October 19, 2015.

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