Watch this series of short videos to learn about “Six Classes” of chemicals that are known to harm human health and the environment. Each video summarizes where one of these classes of chemicals is used, associated health problems, and how to reduce exposure. This knowledge will better equip large purchasers, manufacturers, retailers, designers, and consumers to take the steps needed to limit the use of these problematic chemicals.
As part of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment, the agency has completed a final risk evaluation for HBCD under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In the final HBCD risk evaluation, EPA reviewed 12 conditions of use, including as a flame retardant in building materials, solder paste, recycled plastics, and automobile replacement parts.
Rodgers, et al (2019). ” Health Toll From Open Flame and Cigarette-Started Fires on Flame-Retardant Furniture in Massachusetts, 2003–2016.” American Journal of Public Health 109(9), 1205-1211. 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305157
Objectives. To evaluate the risk of death and injury in residential fires started on upholstered furniture, with a focus on open flame and cigarette-related heat sources.
Methods. We used civilian death and injury data from 34 081 residential fires in the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System from 2003 to 2016. We compared outcomes associated with fires that started on upholstered furniture ignited by smoking materials versus open flames.
Results. Although fires starting on upholstered furniture were not common (2.2% of total fires), odds of death and injury were significantly higher in these fires than in fires started on other substrates. Among furniture fires, odds of death were 3 times greater when those fires were ignited by smoking materials than when ignited by open flames (odds ratio = 3.4; 95% confidence interval = 1.3, 10.9).
Conclusions. Furniture fires started by smoking materials were associated with more deaths than were furniture fires started by open flames.
Public Health Implications. Historically, furniture flammability regulations have focused on open flame heat sources, resulting in the addition of toxic flame retardants to furniture. Interventions to reduce deaths should instead focus on smoking materials.
Read the full story from the American Chemical Society.
Flame retardants are present in thousands of everyday items, from clothing to furniture to electronics. Although these substances can help prevent fire-related injuries and deaths, they could have harmful effects on human health and the environment. Today, scientists report potentially less toxic, biodegradable flame retardants from an unlikely source: plants.
Read the full story in the Miami Herald.
It has been six months since Florida health officials learned that there was a potential problem with groundwater contamination, linked to fire retardant chemicals, at firefighting training sites across the state.
Of Florida’s 45 certified firefighting training facilities, 27 are known or suspected to have used those toxic chemicals, part of a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. But so far only four sites have been tested by the state Department of Environmental Protection for environmental contamination.
Another two dozen sites have yet to be assessed. Some facilities, like Miami-Dade College, are still using the foam today, for one-day training classes and on the coating of some of its firefighting gear.
The big question is: How potentially harmful is exposure to these chemicals to firefighters who are training and to people who live and work near those sites? The state is only beginning to assess how widespread that exposure could be.
Read the full story in Building Green.
It’s a familiar story: a toxic substance gets phased out, only to be replaced with a chemically similar one that has the same toxic properties. An amendment to existing California law aims to stop this pattern of “regrettable substitution” by effectively banning whole classes of flame retardants in upholstered furniture, mattresses, and children’s products.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing an updated and validated way to test for an additional four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, including the GenX chemical, hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA). PFAS are man-made chemicals used in a wide range of products because of their ability to repel water, grease, and oil. They are found in everyday items such as food packaging and non-stick, stain repellent, and waterproof products including clothing and other products used by outdoor enthusiasts. Today’s updated tools are part of EPA’s efforts to increase the amount of research and information that is publicly available for chemicals in the PFAS family.
”EPA’s validated method, EPA Method 537.1, will ensure that both government and private laboratories can accurately and consistently measure 18 PFAS in their drinking water, which is a critical step for estimating people’s exposure and potential risk to PFAS,” said EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science, Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta. “This affirms EPA’s commitment to providing ways for states and tribes to address PFAS in their communities.”
Additionally, EPA is providing information that will help states, tribes, and local communities make the best choices about how to treat PFAS contaminated drinking water based on their specific needs. EPA has evaluated the effectiveness of several drinking water treatment technologies to remove a variety of PFAS. EPA has also evaluated costs associated with the drinking water technologies based on the type of PFAS that need to be treated.
EPA is continuing to work to develop a PFAS Management Plan that will provide the Agency’s approach to addressing PFAS challenges and will be released as soon as possible. While the updated methods are part of the management plan, the Agency is releasing them now to ensure that communities across the country have access to this information as soon as it is available.
PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries since the 1940s. They are found in everyday items such as food packaging and non-stick, stain repellent, and waterproof products including clothing and other products used by outdoor enthusiasts. EPA’s drinking water treatability database includes treatment options for PFAS, including GenX chemicals.
EPA Method 537, which was first published in 2009 to initially determine 14 different PFAS in drinking water, has been updated to include 4 more PFAS. This includes the GenX chemical HFPO-DA, as well as three additional PFAS [11-chloroeicosafluoro-3-oxaundecane-1-sulfonic acid (11Cl-PF3OUdS), 9-chlorohexadecafluoro-3-oxanone-1-sulfonic acid (9Cl-PF3ONS), and 4,8-dioxa-3H-perfluorononanoic acid (ADONA)].
The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) works with small businesses to help them reduce the use of toxic chemicals while maintaining their business’s success. In this case, TURI worked with a Massachusetts gymnastics training facility to eliminate toxic flame retardants in their foam pit cubes while maintaining fire safety.
Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.
Consumer Product Safety Commission seeks National Academies’ advice on regulating chemicals as a class.