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Politics and Policy

California's Chemical Cautionary Tale: High Levels Of Flame Retardants In Kids Due To Misguided Law

Adam Piotrowski, Flickr Creative Commons

A study out today reveals that California kids have unhealthy levels of flame retardant chemicals in their bodies. 

For forty years a little-known fire law on the books in California required that furniture be doused in flame retardant chemicals. That flammability standard was revised in 2014, but in some ways, the damage had already been done. According to a new study from the Environmental Working Group and Duke University, people living in California “have higher levels of certain fire retardant metabolites in their bodies.” That’s particularly true of children according to study co-author Johanna Congleton.

When compared to a group in New Jersey, where no such law ever existed, the California kids had twice the amount of chemicals in their bodies. She says that’s concerning when it comes to some chemicals, especially one called TDCIPP. “Which is listed as a carcinogen in the state of California," Congleton says. "It causes cancer in animals. It’s also a suspected endocrine disruptor and is linked to some adverse reproductive effects.”

The study looked at a relatively small group, however it’s the latest in a string of similar studies. Congleton says the point is to show the impacts of chemical legislation on public health. That’s especially important given that the federal government is in the process of revising its national flammability standards.

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