Attention chemical lobby: that doesn't work in Oregon
Last week Oregon became the fourth state to pass a Deca-BDE ban though its legislature. This is great news if you prefer not having toxic substances in your body, or in your surroundings. Wait till you hear what the chemical lobby was up to.
Last week Oregon became the fourth state to pass a Deca-BDE ban though its legislature. This is great news if you prefer not having toxic substances in your body, or in your surroundings. In a legislative session that’s been marked with difficult economic times and sometimes contentious lawmaking, this bill is a true victory for Oregon’s environmental legacy. OEC worked hard to help pass the bill, along with Willamette Riverkeeper, OLCV and others.
Deca-BDE is used in flame retardants in products like mattresses and other household items. Over time, these chemicals escape from their intended usage and find their way into the environment and human bodies, where they are stored in fat tissue. Young children are especially vulnerable. Back in 2005, Oregon banned the more toxic brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs) Penta-BDE and Octa-BDE. Deca-BDE has been shown to break down into these more toxic forms over time.
According to the Environmental Working Group: “Even low doses of these compounds can cause thyroid hormone disruption, permanent learning and memory impairment, behavioral changes, hearing deficits, delayed puberty onset, and decreased sperm counts in laboratory animals. Scientists have also found that exposures occurring in utero or during infancy lead to more significant harm than exposure during adulthood, and at much lower levels. Some of these studies have found toxic effects at levels lower than are now detected in American women.”
So with the all of the safer fire retardants alternatives on the market, it’s a no-brainer right?
Not even close. This bill passed because legislators and citizen groups stood up to special interest groups trying to impose their product on Oregon.
The American Chemistry Council, the bromine lobby, and others spent $28,000 a month on four lobbyists to try and keep Deca-BDE in our products and thus, in our bodies. They flew in ‘experts’ from California and Florida to challenge the testimony of Oregon physicians and researchers. They sent out slick fliers to every legislative district in Oregon. The had robo-calls dial up voters across the state with phony scare tactics. They hired international mega PR firm Burston-Marsteller to create a sham group “Citizens for Fire Safety” to promote the toxic chemicals pedaled by the bromine industry.
None of it worked. The International Association of Fire Fighters joined Oregon’s citizens, legislature, and the Oregon State Fire Fighters Council, OEC and state environmental groups to help make our state a healthier, safer place to live. The bill now goes to Governor Ted Kulongoski for signing.