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U.S. consumer safety agency to ban toxic flame retardants in some products

by Britt E. Erickson
September 25, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 38

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) agreed to ban organohalogen flame retardants in four types of household products. The affected products are durable infant and toddler items, residential furniture, mattresses and mattress pads, and outer casings on electronics. On Sept. 20, commissioners voted 3-2 to grant a petition for the ban filed by a coalition of medical and consumer groups, scientists, and firefighters. Those who voted in favor of the petition claim that organohalogen flame retardants are too hazardous to put in certain products. Researchers have associated this class of chemicals with reproductive, genotoxic, immunotoxic, neurotoxic, and carcinogenic effects in animal studies. Those who voted against the petition pointed out that CPSC scientists recommended denying the petition because of limited exposure data. CPSC next will convene a group of external experts called a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel to identify data gaps and help the agency as it initiates the rule-making process. In the meantime, CPSC will alert the public to the serious hazards of organohalogen flame retardants and issue guidance to manufacturers not to use the chemicals in specific products.


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