Landmark Legal Agreement Requires Nap Mat Maker to Eliminate Harmful Flame Retardant Chemicals

Oakland, CA-The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) today announced it has reached a legal agreement with Peerless Plastics, one of the nation’s leading makers of children’s nap mats, which calls for the company to eliminate all flame retardant chemicals from its products by August 1, 2013.  The agreement is the first-ever settlement on flame retardant chemicals under California’s strong consumer protection law, called Prop 65, and follows CEH’s investigation last year that found high levels of the cancer-causing flame retardant chlorinated Tris in baby products and nap mats sold nationwide.

“We applaud Peerless for taking the lead in eliminating harmful flame retardant chemicals from its products nationwide,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “We expect other companies to follow their lead by eliminating these harmful chemicals, which are ineffective in preventing fires and pose serious threats to our children’s health.”

Earlier this year, CEH initiated legal action against Peerless and more than 50 other companies that sell nap mats, baby products, furniture or other products that contain chlorinated Tris, a chemical known to cause cancer. Under California’s Prop 65 law, such products must carry a warning label. CEH also tested nap mats from Peerless and from nap mat suppliers in 7 states for a range of flame retardant chemicals and found that 19 of 24 nap mats tested contained more than one harmful flame retardant chemical. Studies on the flame retardants found in nap mats have linked the chemicals to cancer, genetic damage, impacts on fertility and reproductive health, allergies, hormone disruption, and other serious health problems.

Children are exposed to flame retardants from nap mats when the chemicals leach out into the air, and when chemicals settle in dust that children touch and ingest. A study of daycares last year found that levels of certain flame retardants including chlorinated Tris were significantly higher in facilities that used foam nap mats than in daycares that don’t use the products. Chlorinated Tris was banned from children’s pajamas in the mid-1970s, yet it still widely used in children’s products today.

CEH and other organizations have for years been urging regulators to change the outdated state and federal product flammability standards that encourage the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals. A federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report last year stated that chemical flame retardants are ineffective in foam furniture for fire safety, and noted that their testing showed that “fire-retardant foams did not offer a practically significantly greater level of open- flame safety than did the untreated foams.”

In February, CEH welcomed a new California proposal for a fire safety standard (called TB117-2013) that would provide improved fire safety without the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals. In addition to the California proposal, other bills to regulate the use of flame retardants are pending in several states, including Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington.

For more information, see the CEH report, “Naptime Nightmares? Toxic Flame Retardants in Child Care Nap Mats.”

The Center for Environmental Health has a sixteen-year track record of protecting children and families from harmful chemicals in our air, water, food and in dozens of every day products. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices. In 2010, the San Francisco Business Times bestowed its annual “Green Champion” award to CEH for its work to improve health and the environment in the Bay Area and beyond.

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