Washington state first in the nation to ban PBDEs

Washington state will be the first in the nation to phase out nasty fireproofing chemicals called PBDEs, which show up in the bodies of people and wildlife and may cause neurological damage. Yesterday, the state Senate passed a measure that will eventually ban home items containing deca, the most commonly used PBDE; the House had already approved the bill, and now the governor is expected to sign it into law. Mattresses containing deca will be the first to go, starting in 2008; provided a safer fireproofing alternative is found, TVs, computers, and upholstery will have to be deca-free starting in 2011. “It’s a great victory for children’s health over the scare tactics of the [flame retardant] industry,” says Laurie Valeriano of the Washington Toxics Coalition. The measure passed 41 to 8, with dissenting Republicans arguing that risks from PBDEs are unknown (extensive lab tests notwithstanding) and that fireproofing alternatives might be ineffective. The phaseout is endorsed by the state fire marshal and state associations of fire chiefs and firefighters, but what do they know?