Senator Jon Tester is supporting new efforts to protect American families and their kids from dangerous chemicals found in common household goods like furniture and baby products.
Certain flame retardant chemicals are added to household products to reportedly reduce the risk of fire. But the toxic chemicals may cause cancer and serious neurological and reproductive diseases. The Consumer Product Safety Commission also recently found that the chemicals do not provide meaningful fire protection.
Tester is backing a plan requiring companies to notify the Environmental Protection Agency when they start using flame retardant chemicals. It also requires that all companies provide the EPA with the data it needs to evaluate the chemicals' health and safety effects.
"Americans deserve to know that the chemicals used in everyday consumer products are safe," Tester wrote EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "Instead, it has become clear that the chemicals can increase human health risks. The EPA's current action is an important first step towards protecting Americans from the risks posed by these pervasive chemicals."
Children are particularly vulnerable to flame retardant chemicals, which are inhaled in household dust and absorbed through the skin. Children tend to be more active, which leads to more rapid breathing. They also spend a lot of time playing on the floor where dust accumulates.
The chemicals, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), are mixed into household products to raise the temperatures at which they can burn. In addition to furniture and baby products, PBDEs are found in fabrics, plastics, wire insulation, and cars.
A recent investigative report revealed that the chemicals' manufacturers may have misled the public for decades about the health risks of PDBEs.
Tester is also cosponsoring the Safe Chemicals Act, which reforms how chemicals are regulated by the EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act. He recently called on the Food and Drug Administration to ramp up efforts to protect women from high levels of lead in lipstick.