Flame Retardant Ban Passes Out of Second Assembly Policy Committee  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Today, AB 2998, a measure authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) to protect Californians from toxic flame retardant chemicals, passed out of the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee on a 7-2 vote. The bill, which cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee last week, prohibits the sale of juvenile products, mattresses, and upholstered or reupholstered furniture in California that contain toxic flame retardant chemicals.  

“AB 2998 prioritizes the safety of California consumers, children, and firefighters,” said Assemblymember Richard Bloom. “We know flame retardant chemicals are toxic. We know that they don’t improve the fire resistance of the products in this bill. There is no justifiable reason for us to continue using these chemicals. ”

Flame retardant chemicals have long been added to a variety of household products to meet now-defunct flammability standards. Today, these chemicals are ubiquitous in American households and have steadily built up in human bodies and in the environment. As a result, Americans have higher levels of these chemicals in their bodies than populations in many other developed countries.  

Among the general public, children and firefighters have particularly high exposure risks. Infants are exposed to these chemicals at higher levels than adults, often coming into contact with them in dust or through breast milk. Studies have linked these chemicals to lower birth weight, reduced IQ, and impaired neurological development in children. Additionally, when flame retardant chemicals burn, they convert into dioxins and furans: toxic substances known to cause cancer. Firefighters inhale these chemicals in the process of fighting fires and over the past several decades, cancer rates have increased among firefighters in part due to the presence of these chemicals. 

AB 2998 prohibits the sale of specific products – juvenile products, mattresses, and upholstered or reupholstered furniture in California – that contain toxic flame retardant chemicals. All of the products identified in the bill either have no flammability standard or a standard that can easily be met without the use of flame retardant chemicals. 

In fact, much of the industry in all three segments, has moved away from the use of flame retardant chemicals, in part thanks to labeling requirements and increased public awareness about their dangers. However, stragglers remain and a ban is necessary to fully limit exposure risks. 

“Firefighters risk their lives every day to keep us safe and we cannot, in good conscience, ask them to also face higher rates of cancer for chemicals we do not need,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “Our children trust us to protect their health; doing so means we must eliminate this health risk that stands in the way of their development.”

AB 2998 now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  

Richard Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.