Science & Policy Blog: Policy

A Day in the Life at GSP: Veronica Chin

As Program Associate, Veronica Chin leads GSP’s role in the Foam Furniture Replacement Study. The “Dust Study,” as we call it, replaces old furniture containing flame retardants with new furniture without those chemicals for low-income families in the Bay Area. In collaboration with UC Davis and Biomonitoring California, we are testing the old furniture for chemical content, and measuring levels of flame retardants in house dust over time.…

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Forty years later TSCA gets an overhaul

In June, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (TSCA reform, hereafter), a revision to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. The amended law removes several roadblocks that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) faced when trying to determine the safety of chemicals in household products. There are significant improvements and some drawbacks concerning the revisions…

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Flame Retardants in Car Seats—Do We Need Them?

Car seats are essential to protecting children in cars. Due to a federal motor vehicle flammability standard, many materials in automobiles, including car seats, contain harmful flame retardants. There is no evidence showing this standard increases fire safety for children, but the standard results in exposure to chemicals that have been associated with cancer, endocrine disruption, and neurological and reproductive impairment. In a study by the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based nonprofit, three quarters of car seats tested were found to contain hazardous…

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Chemical Industry Insider Comes Clean

“Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” “False in one, false in all” is the legal principle that says a witness who willfully falsifies one matter is not credible on any matter. Recent Center for Public Integrity and the Daily Beast reporting shows the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the chemical industry’s trade group, has willfully falsified in more matters than one. ACC hasn’t told the truth about its lobbying activities in state legislatures, its activities related to flame retardant chemicals, or…

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HBCD is on the way out – but use of questionable alternatives will persist

This week, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. But internationally, countries that have signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants have a different reason to give thanks: the amendment adding HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) to Annex A (Elimination) takes effect today. Under Annex A of the Convention, countries have up to five years to eliminate uses of HBCD in plastic foam building insulation, and any insulation materials containing HBCD during that phase-out period will need to be labeled. HBCD is a persistent,…

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Why can’t I buy flame retardant-free furniture in California yet?

Perhaps you, too, were waiting for that clock to strike midnight on January 1, 2014 to buy a new sofa. In that one second, a regulation that led to the use of toxic flame retardants in furniture and baby products for 38 years finally changed. And perhaps, full of excitement, you rushed to the store that very day, looking forward to buying a flame retardant-free couch or chair. Unfortunately, things have proved to be a bit more complicated. Under the…

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A new year, with promising new regulations

2013 was a productive year for fire safety and for environmental health! Two important regulatory changes that take effect this year have the power to reduce the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals in consumer products while continuing a high standard of fire safety. First, California’s Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117) received a much-needed update in 2013 and is now in effect across the state. Second, California Assembly Bill 127 (AB127) generated a discussion of the validity of building insulation flammability…

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USGBC honors leaders, unveils new building health initiative

The US Green Building Council Northern California Chapter’s annual Super Hero Awards gala, held last Tuesday in San Francisco, honored leaders in the nonprofit, education, and government sectors for their work in generating healthy, sustainable, and responsible communities and policies. The evening highlighted achievements ranging from efficient and affordable community planning to safer chemicals use in consumer and building products to environmentally responsible corporate investment. During the event, USGBC-NCC Executive Director Dan Geiger launched the chapter’s new Building Health Initiative, which will focus…

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