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In split vote, Senate sends a bill banning two toxic flame retardants to House for consideration

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on April 17, 2013 at 6:48 pm with No Comments »
April 17, 2013 6:50 pm
Sen. Sharon Nelson
Sen. Sharon Nelson

The state Senate voted to send a bill outlawing certain flame retardants back to

Sen. Doug Ericksen
Sen. Doug Ericksen

the House on Wednesday. House Bill 1294 was watered down from what the House originally approved on a partisan vote.

Democratic Sen. Sharon Nelson of Maury Island blasted the compromise, saying the “gutted version” that passed “removed much-needed protections for our babies, children and families from these harmful flame retardants that are known to cause cancer.” But Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, says the proposal is a compromise that preserves a process already in place for the Department of Ecology to review chemicals of concern.

Jonathan Kaminsky of The Associated Press has written a story outlining what happend:

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would ban two carcinogenic flame retardants in car seats, strollers and other products made for young children.

The measure to ban TCEP and chlorinated Tris — also known as TDCPP — was scaled back from the version advanced by the Democrat-controlled House in March. The ban would take effect in 2015.

Unlike the House bill, the Senate version doesn’t include banning the two retardants from sofas and other upholstered household products. It also removes a provision barring the replacement of banned flame retardants with other likely toxic chemicals — a phenomenon advocates refer to as “the toxic treadmill.”

“We’re disappointed,” said Ivy Sager Rosenthal, campaign director for the Washington Toxics Coalition. “Just banning these two flame retardants in children’s products isn’t enough.”

Both the Senate and House versions of the bill would make Washington the first state to ban chlorinated Tris, a chemical that rose in use after the state banned a class of flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, from children’s products in 2009.

New York state banned TCEP from children’s products two years ago.

After passing the Senate by a vote of 30-18, the measure heads back to the House, which can either adopt the upper chamber’s version or work toward a compromise.

Proponents of the House version of the bill point out that Graco Inc., a manufacturer of car seats and other children’s products, recently stopped using chlorinated Tris, replacing it with TBBPA, a derivative of Bisphenol A that the state Department of Ecology lists as a chemical of high concern to children.

Last year, a Chicago Tribune investigation found that an expert witness for the flame-retardant industry, Dr. David Heimbach, a burn expert from Seattle, had fabricated testimony before state lawmakers across the country. In that testimony, Heimbach told of treating infants suffering severe burns because of children’s products not containing flame-retardant chemicals.

In the wake of the Tribune report, the companies that manufacture flame-retardant chemicals closed their public outreach arm, the Citizens for Fire Safety Institute, and shifted their lobbying efforts to the American Chemistry Council.

The American Chemistry Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The vote was 30-to-18 and both the Democratic and Majority Coalition Caucus were split – with nine Democrats and 21 coalition members in favor. Four Republicans in the coalition and 14 Democrats voted against it.

My backgrounder post from earlier in the day is here.

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