Some in Olympia call it the toxic treadmill. Deal with one hazardous substance and another takes its place. The chemical Tris is a prime example.
Long banned in children’s pajamas, modern versions of the chemical flame retardant turn up in children’s products and residential upholstered furniture: foam padding in sofas, but also car seats, crib mattresses and changing and nursing pads.
The product shows up in household dust and is easily ingested by kids putting their hands in their mouths.
Substitute House Bill 1294 prohibits the sale, manufacture or distribution of children’s products or residential furniture containing Tris in amounts greater than 50 parts per million in any component.
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Safer alternatives exist, along with other options for furniture materials and coverings. The legislation also would prevent manufacturers from a default choice of another chemical known to have its own problems and hazards.
The state Department of Ecology is charged by previous legislation to maintain a list of chemicals of high concern for children, and the alternatives cannot be among the dozens identified.
This bill is working through the state House; passage would send it to the Senate.
This legislation is broadly endorsed by many groups as a way to protect children and all residents. Support includes Washington’s fire chiefs, firefighters and the medical community, along with civic and environmental groups.
The Legislature acted responsibly in years past to get harmful chemicals out of products for children. The duty and vigilance is ongoing.
Cynics sneer about the toxic treadmill. Ignore them. Keep chlorinated Tris and other hazards away from kids and others.