In the 1970’s flame-retardants were found to be carcinogenic and highly absorptive so they were voluntarily removed from children’s pajamas. Since then these chemicals have found their way back into our children’s products although the toxicity and danger to the health of children has remained the same. Flame retardant exposure is linked with cancers and immune suppression, learning disorders, lower IQ and hyperactivity, hormone disruption, reduced fertility and birth defects.
Some other products found to have flame-retardants include nursing pillows, infant changing pads, car seats, and most foam-filled upholstered furniture. The chemicals are placed in the foam of these products but do not bind to the foam; they off-gas and fall as dust to the ground exposing everyone in the home.
Americans have some of the highest blood levels of flame retardants in the world. Studies have shown that babies and toddlers are the most vulnerable developmentally and often have blood levels three to four times what their mothers accumulate. Why? Because they spend their time lying on these products, crawling on the floor in the dust particles, and putting everything in their mouth.
I am a nurse and mother of two small children (3 and 6). Parents should not have to research the health safety of every product they buy. It is unacceptable to continue to sell and produce products for children that contain flame-retardants, especially since they are known carcinogens; there are affordable, safer alternatives.
Further, the presence of these toxic carcinogens offers no real fire safety benefit. Fire injury and death are more commonly caused by smoke inhalation. The chemicals from the burning foam create a much more toxic smoke — killing more quickly! And the exposure creates a long-term risk of cancer for firefighters, whose cancer rates are rising alarmingly.
There really is no reason to have these toxic chemicals in the products that children will be exposed to each day.
I hope Connecticut will continue to champion legislation to protect the children and firefighters of Connecticut by passing HB 5299, An Act Concerning Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals in Children’s Products and Upholstered Residential Furniture this session.
Hacah Boros, RN, MSN, is Coordinator of Environmental Health for the Connecticut Nurses Association and Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut.