As people have become more aware of environmental hazards in products, there have been calls for reform. Because of the recent backlash from consumers and various lawmakers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission called for the removal of a class of toxic chemicals found in a variety of consumer products, including mattresses, electronic casings, and children’s products. Based in part on a petition filed by consumer, healthcare, science, and firefighter advocacy groups, the flame retardant chemicals known as organohalogens are now slated to no longer be used in the manufacturing and production of the products in which they have been found.
Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel
Along with initiating steps necessary to remove these toxic chemicals from products, the Consumer Product Safety Commission also voted to create a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel, which will provide scientific expertise and advice to the CPSC staff as it works to develop new rules and regulations related to these chemicals. Due to many consumer advocacy groups claiming these chemicals were having a negative effect on the cognitive development of children’s brains, the CPSC has chosen to work with a broad coalition of individuals and groups in an effort to solve this problem.
Scientific Consensus of Toxic Chemicals
In order to reach their conclusions and implement the proposed changes to these chemicals, the CPSC has determined there is a scientific consensus that this group of chemicals do indeed pose a significant threat to humans. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, this class of chemicals has been linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer, lower IQ in children, hyperactivity, reduced sperm count, and many other ailments. Based on studies conducted by the NIEHS, these chemicals have been found to escape from the products that contain them and enter the environment as well as people. By doing so, it’s estimated that as many as 97 percent of people in the United States have measurable levels of organohalogens in their bloodstream.
While consumer groups have many concerns regarding these chemicals, firefighters also have expressed worries about organohalogens. According to the International Association of Firefighters, many first responders are put at risk due to the chemicals being released from these products during a fire. The longer the fire continues, the more toxic the fire and smoke become, creating an additional hazard for firefighters. While some data has indicated there may be a higher rate of cancer among firefighters than the general population, more studies are expected to be done to confirm this suspicion.
Creating New Rules and Regulations
Even though numerous advocacy groups want new rules and regulations implemented immediately, creating any new legislation will of course take time. Because of this, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has chosen to provide manufacturers with new guidelines that offer suggestions as to how products can be manufactured without the use of these chemicals that are thought to be so harmful to humans and the environment.
Because this issue has become such a hot-button topic with various groups, there have been a number of petitioners who have worked together. Such groups include the American Academy of Pediatrics, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Consumers Union, Green Science Policy Institute, American Medical Women’s Association, and several others.
While there is still much to be learned about this topic, it’s safe to say that there will be many individuals and groups keeping a close eye on the progress made in the coming years. As environmental and health concerns become a focal point in today’s world, this issue will gain much more attention.
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