Government authorities have conducted assessments of the use of specific non-polymeric, additive organohalogen flame retardants and determined that they present no significant health or environmental risk. These studies differ from hazard assessments, which are designed to find an adverse effect, in that they incorporate exposure in order to evaluate the potential for real-world risk to human health and the environment.
The CPSC decision runs counter to and is in conflict with regulatory assessments and determinations by US EPA under the new Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act and regulatory authorities around the world. In this regard, consumers, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers are urged to carefully consider this issue and guidance being issued by the CPSC in the context of the overall regulatory systems in place for chemicals in the US and globally.
The CPSC’s own staff concluded that it is not appropriate to group all organohalogen flame retardants together, and that the CPSC could not make the determination that all of these chemicals were “hazardous substances.” As outlined in the CPSC staff report, the commission cannot, consistent with the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), determine that all children’s products, upholstered furniture sold for use in residences, mattresses and the plastics casings surrounding electronics containing an additive, non-polymeric organohalogen flame retardant are “hazardous substances.”
This unexpected, political decision was taken despite a very strong recommendation from the CPSC’s own technical staff that the NGO petition should be denied based on the state of the science and the fact that all OFRs could not be treated as a class and cannot be found to be “hazardous substances” under the Federal Hazard Substances Act. This decision was also taken despite strong opposition to these actions from other Commissioners, and despite the fact that this issue is currently not included in the CPSC 2018 operating plan or budget, indicating that there had been no intention or resources to support this activity.
Q: Is fire still a threat to life and property? Yes. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2015, fire departments in the U.S. responded to a fire every 23 seconds. That same year, NFPA reported that firefighters responded to nearly 1.35 million fires, which resulted in 3,280 civilian fire fatalities, 15,700 civilian fire injuries and an estimated $14.3 billion in property loss. According to the NFPA, young children and people over 65 face the highest risk of fire death.