Earlier this week, the Maine Senate unanimously voted to amend a ban on the flame retardant Deca. The bill, LD 930, now gives greater flexibility for manufacturers to find safer, approved alternatives.
Deca is part of a series of PBDE (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) chemicals that are used as flame retardants in furniture, electronics, and other consumer products. They are known reproductive and developmental toxicants that have made their way into the environment and into our bodies. PBDE levels in breast milk, blood and tissues have increased by a factor of 100 in the past 30 years, doubling about every five years. This is alarming--studies link PBDEs to reproductive and developmental problems, including delayed puberty. The Environmental Health Strategy Center has more information about the impacts of Deca on the health of women and children.
Last year, Maine banned Deca from shipping pellets and prohibited manufacturers from replacing Deca with other brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. The amendment passed this week requires any alternatives to be approved by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection. We applaud LD 930 because it allows manufacturers flexibility in finding alternatives, which is important as full non-halogenated alternatives to brominated or chlorinated flame retardants don’t exist, yet.
Developing laws that protect human health from toxic products, and creating safer alternatives should be a top priority. That’s PPNNE is working with the Alliance for Clean and Healthy Maine to advance comprehensive chemical policy reform with the passage of the Safer Chemicals Act of 2011. The policy is a long-overdue modernization of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that provides greater consumer and worker information about toxic exposure, strengthens the Environmental Protection Agency’s oversight on harmful chemicals, and promotes innovation for safer alternatives.