The problem: California’s unique flammability standard, Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117), requires the filling inside upholstered furniture to withstand a 12-second exposure to an open flame. Products with a label saying they meet TB117 usually contain toxic or untested halogenated flame retardant chemicals. However, as our research has shown, flame retardants as used to meet TB117 do not provide a fire safety benefit.
Status: 2012-13 - In progress
2010-11 - Successfully completed
The problem: Because of California flammability standard TB117, toxic flame retardant chemicals are used in many baby products containing foam. Children and infants are most sensitive to the adverse health effects of these chemicals, some of which are carcinogens and developmental toxins. Babies are born with these chemicals in their bodies and get a further dose from their mother's milk and exposure to baby products.
The problem: For improved energy efficiency, the use of insulation materials such as polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane is increasing in buildings, especially “green” buildings. Building codes specify performance tests for these materials that lead to the inclusion of flame retardant chemicals that are either known to be toxic or lack adequate health information.
The problem: Proposed amendments to International Electrotechnical Commission standards requiring television enclosures to resist a candle flame have no valid fire safety rationale and are met by including toxic or untested flame retardants in the plastic around the TV. The chemical industry has promoted similar standards for the past decade, but GSP in collaboration with NGOs and scientists worldwide was able to stop passage in 2008 and 2012. However, a new candle standard has been proposed and will be voted on in 2013.
The problem: Independent peer-reviewed science regarding the fire safety, environmental and health effects of flame retardants is not accessible to the business community including manufacturers, dealers, and retailers.
Using an innovative educational strategy of transformative workshops conducted with manufacturers, dealers and retailers of products containing flame retardants, we will:
The problem: The production capacity of flame retardants in China has gone from 50 kilotonnes in 1993 to 350 kilotonnes in 2006, and continues to grow rapidly. The market share for the more toxic halogenated fire-retardant chemicals is larger in China than in the EU or U.S.
GSP is educating government, industry, academics, press, and the Chinese public about human health and environmental impacts of using flame retardants and other untested halogenated chemicals.
The problem: Since the 1970's, there has been a huge increase in the incidence of hyperthyroid disease in pet cats, which is possibly connected to their exposure to halogenated chemicals. This project brings together veterinarians, epidemiologists, and toxicologists to study feline exposure to halogenated chemicals and potential health impacts.
Purpose: The GSP Student Research and Policy Program provides science students an opportunity to conduct independent research with the potential to impact policy and to share their results with the public and decision makers. Participants will gain experience in research methods and science communication and will learn to think beyond the lab to use their research findings for the public good.
California Technical Bulletin 604 was a proposed flammability standard for filled bed clothing, including comforters, mattress pads and pillows. In February 2010, based partly on GSP efforts, the California Bureau (BEARHFTI) suspended its effort to implement TB604.
The San Antonio Statement documents health hazards and lack of proven fire safety benefit from the use of brominated and chlorinated flame retardant chemicals in home furniture, baby products, and other consumer products. This consensus statement, to date signed by more than 210 scientists and physicians from 30 countries, was published in the December 2010 journal Environmental Health Perspective (EHP).