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Flame retardant added to state's list of cancer-causing chemicals

George Koshy/FlickrState officials voted to add chlorinated Tris, a flame retardant, to the state's list of carcinogens.

In a victory for environmentalists, a flame retardant common in furniture and baby products was officially listed yesterday by the state as a cancer-causing chemical. 

Although the chemical, chlorinated Tris, was banned from children's pajamas in the 1970s, it recently experienced a resurgence in furniture foam. Today, it is the nation's most commonly used flame retardant in furniture and baby products.

“The listing of chlorinated Tris on Prop. 65 is a public health victory,” said Sarah Janssen, senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Widespread exposure to this chemical, now officially identified as a cancer-causing chemical, is a threat to vulnerable populations. This listing should result in labeling requirements for products that contain dangerous levels of this chemical.”

The chemical was determined by the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment [PDF] to be harmful to human health and therefore subject to listing under Proposition 65.

Proposition 65, or the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, was enacted as a ballot initiative in 1986. It was designed to protect the state's residents and their drinking water from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. The initiative requires the governor to publish a list every year of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

The state office’s Carcinogen Identification Committee voted 5-1 to list the chemical, which will require that manufacturers of items containing the chemical notify consumers of its presence.

“We thank the committee for its careful consideration of the evidence regarding the health effects of Tris,” said Sam Delson, deputy director for external and legislative affairs for the environmental hazard office. “Now that the state's qualified experts have found that this chemical causes cancer and added it to the Proposition 65 list, a warning requirement will take effect in 12 months.”

The committee also voted on whether to list fluoride and found it not to be carcinogenic, with a 6-0 vote against listing that chemical.

The American Chemistry Council, the trade group representing Tris makers, did not respond to a request for comment.

Filed under: Environment, Daily Report

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