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Green Science Policy’s projects aim to promote responsible chemicals use and sound, science-based policies. Our work is guided by independent research and scientific integrity. By providing unbiased scientific data to government, industry, and non-governmental organizations, we facilitate informed decision-making about chemicals used in consumer products.
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Big Idea

Given the toxicity and persistence of organohalogen flame retardants, a broad coalition of medical, firefighters, consumer and science groups is asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ban household products containing any member of the class of organohalogen flame retardants.

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Children’s Products

An outdated California standard led to the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals in children’s products containing foam across North America.

As of January 1, 2014, new children’s products are not required to contain added flame retardants. Consumers should avoid TB117 labels and ask retailers for flame retardant-free products. Car seats continue to contain flame retardants.

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Electronics Standards

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) sets worldwide standards for electronics. Proposed amendments to standards requiring the cases around computers and televisions to resist a candle flame have no valid fire safety rationale and lead to the addition of toxic or inadequately tested flame retardant chemicals to the plastic case.

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Flame Retardants

Flame retardant chemicals are widely used in commercial and consumer products to meet flammability requirements. Many of these chemicals are persistent, bioaccumulative, and/ or toxic, presenting significant risks to human health and the environment.

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Flame Retardants in Furniture

An outdated California standard led to the use of harmful and potentially harmful flame retardant chemicals in furniture and baby product foam across North America. A new standard took effect January 1, 2014. TB117-2013 allows for fire-safe, flame retardant free furniture and baby products.

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Health & Environment

Many halogenated flame retardants are environmentally persistent and bioaccumulative. Because of their persistence, halogenated flame retardants have become distributed around the globe and are found at remote places where they have never been used. Furthermore, even if they are banned and no longer manufactured, chemicals already released to the environment continue to persist and spread.

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Healthy Buildings

For improved energy efficiency, the use of foam plastic insulation materials is increasing in buildings, but outdated insulation flammability standards lead to the addition of flame retardant chemicals that are either known to be toxic or lack adequate information.

We have been working with architects, scientists, builders, policymakers and fire safety experts to find ways to reduce the use of flame retardants in building materials and create healthier buildings.

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Highly Fluorinated Chemicals

Highly fluorinated chemicals contain carbon-fluorine (C-F) bonds, which are some of the strongest bonds in nature. That makes them both incredibly resistant to breakdown and very useful. For instance, they can make products grease or stain-resistant, nonstick, or waterproof. However, this comes at a cost.

The highly fluorinated chemicals that have been well-studied have been associated with health problems including testicular and kidney cancer, liver malfunction, hormonal changes, and obesity.
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Responsible Disposal

Now that standard TB117-2013 has been enacted to support better fire safety without the need for flame retardant chemicals, sales of new flame retardant-free furniture expected to grow. Today’s existing furniture will continue to be a major source of exposure to flame retardants.

To minimize exposure for humans and the environment, the flame retardant chemicals in today’s furniture foam must be removed from homes and isolated from the general waste stream.
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Six Classes

There are more than 80,000 untested chemicals in use today. Many of the most problematic substances in everyday products are from six families or “classes” of chemicals. When a compound is from one of these classes, we should ask, “Do we really need this chemical? Is it worth the risk?”
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Past Projects

California Bed Clothing Standard

Status: successfully completed
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 of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI) suspended its effort to implement TB604.

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Safe Kids Campaign

Status: successfully completed
Because of California flammability standard TB117, toxic flame retardant chemicals have been used in many baby products containing foam.

Thanks is part to work done by the Green Science Policy Institute in 2010-2011, most baby products have been exempted from TB117, preventing the further use of these harmful chemicals in these products.

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China Information Project

Status: not currently active
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.

The Green Science Policy Institute contributed a paper and co-chaired a session on flame retardants at the international Dioxin meeting in Beijing in August 2009.

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Feline Health

Status: not currently active
Since the 1970s, 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.

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