LULAC Joins Petition Urging Ban on Products with Certain Toxic Chemicals
March 31, 2015
Today, a broad coalition of groups filed a petition asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ban four categories of consumer products — children’s products, furniture, mattresses and the casings around electronics — if they contain any flame retardant in the chemical class known as organohalogens. Among the petitioners that included LULAC were Earthjustice, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Learning Disabilities Association of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Worksafe, Dr. Philip J. Landrigan and the Green Science Policy Institute.
This entire class of chemicals has been associated with serious human health problems, including cancer, reduced sperm count, increased time to pregnancy, decreased IQ in children, impaired memory, learning deficits, hyperactivity, hormone disruption and lowered immunity. Nevertheless, the chemicals continue to be used at high levels in consumer products.
LULAC, the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in America, among its goals, works to advance health disparities in the Hispanic community.
These chemicals migrate continuously out from everyday household products into the air and dust, such as when a guest sits on a sofa or a baby is laid down on a crib’s mattress. As a result, more than 97 percent of U.S. residents have measurable quantities of toxic organohalogen flame retardants in their blood. Children are especially at-risk because they come into greater contact with household dust than adults. Studies show that children, whose developing brains and reproductive organs are most vulnerable, have three to five times higher levels than their parents.
“It’s critical that the Latino community understand the health risks associated with toxic exposure to dangerous chemicals in consumer products,” said LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “LULAC joins this petition as part of our ongoing effort to raise awareness about environmental health issues that disproportionately impact Latinos at home, in the workplace and beyond.”
A growing number of firefighter organizations have expressed concern about the use of this class of chemicals as well. When consumer products containing these chemicals burn, the fire and smoke become more toxic. The International Association of Fire Fighters has determined that there is a link between exposure to the fumes created when toxins burn and the disproportionately high levels of cancer among firefighters.
No law or government regulation in the country compels the use of flame retardants in the products that are the subject of this petition. However, no law or regulation prohibits using chemicals from this toxic class in consumer products either. Over the last decade, as evidence mounts that one flame retardant chemical is dangerous, the chemical industry has responded by phasing it out and replacing it with a structurally similar chemical that eventually also turns out to be harmful.
The most effective solution is to ban products containing this entire class of chemicals. Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the CPSC has this authority.
Read the petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission here and supporting statements here.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.