By Tom Vitaglione & Nwanne Agada
While the wheels of federal rule-making slowly grind forward, the Consumer Products Safety Commission has issued a Guidance Document intended to help keep infants & children safe from toxic flame retardants.
In December, we told you about a recent decision by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to initiate a ban on the use of organohalogen flame retardant chemicals in children’s products, furniture, mattresses, and electronic casings. When these chemicals are added to products, they inevitably wind up in our bodies – and the toxic effects can damage children’s health and development.
While the lengthy rule-making process for the ban unfolds, the CPSC has released a public guidance to reduce children’s exposure to toxic flame retardants. This guidance document recommends ways that manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers can avoid using organohalogen flame retardants in their products and how consumers (particularly children) can be protected from exposure to organohalogen flame retardants in certain products until a permanent ban is implemented.
The recommendations are:
- Consumers, especially those who are pregnant or with young children, should inquire and obtain assurances from retailers that such products do not contain OFR’s.
- Manufacturers of children’s products, upholstered furniture sold for use in residence mattresses (and mattress pads), and plastic casings surrounding electronics should refrain from intentionally adding non-polymeric, organohalogen flame retardants (OFR’s) to their products.
- Before purchasing such products for resale, importers, distributors, and retailers should obtain assurances from manufacturers that such products do not contain OFR’s.
The bottom line is, unless a retailer or manufacturer can assure you that there are no toxic flame retardants in children’s products, furniture, and bedding, you should probably assume they are present until a formal ban goes into effect – which could take months or even years. Shop around for products without flame retardants, and let retailers know you want them.
For now, we believe this guidance will be helpful to families both before, during and after completion of the rule-making process.
We thank the Consumer Product Safety Commission for their efforts and we will continue to monitor the proposed regulations and provide alerts if it appears the regulations have run into any roadblocks.