October 14, 2011

A commonly used flame retardant has officially been listed as a cancer-causing chemical in the state of California. Chlorinated Tris can be found in foam furniture cushions, auto seats and baby pajamas. The listing won’t ban the use of the flame retardant but could result in warning labels for consumer products containing the chemical. The Carcinogen Identification Committee added the flame retardant to the Proposition 65 list, which requires the publication of a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency have reported that chlorinated tris poses a cancer hazard. Studies have shown the chemical may interfere with hormone and reproductive systems, thyroid function and the neurological development of infants and children. Many companies have voluntarily discontinued use of flame retardants but recent testing of consumer products shows the chemical is still widespread in children’s products like changing tables, car seats and mattresses.

The Los Angeles Times reports the California science committee voted 5 to 1 to list the chemical as a carcinogen after hearing testimony from manufacturers and consumer advocacy groups. The director of the Green Science Policy Institute testified at the hearing. Arlene Blum says “It’s really important because it brings the public’s attention to the fact that there are these cancer causing flame retardants in their furniture, and nursing pillows and kids’ strollers.”