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Chemicals linked to cancer found in baby products, group says

This news story was published on December 7, 2012.
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By Sandy Kleffman, Contra Costa Times –

OAKLAND, Calif. — High levels of a potentially cancer-causing flame retardant have been found in products for babies and young children, an environmental group said Thursday as it announced legal action against the retailers and manufacturers.

The findings by the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health are expected to add fuel to the campaign to change California’s flammability standards.

“Children are vulnerable to chemical exposures at a different level because their bodies are still growing and developing,” said Michael Green, executive director of the center.

“You don’t need these chemicals to make children’s products safe.”

The center sent product samples to an independent laboratory and said it identified 20 products, including 16 intended for babies, with levels of chlorinated Tris that exceeded state safety standards.

Tris was banned from children’s pajamas in 1977, and last year, the state added it to a list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

The center argues that animal and human studies have also linked Tris to hormone disruption and developmental problems.

The tested items included crib mattresses, sleepers, diaper changing pads and nap mats. They were purchased from major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Babies R Us.

On Thursday, the environmental group sent notices accusing the companies of failing to provide warning notices that it says are required by California’s consumer-protection law.

The law requires warning notices whenever the amount of Tris exceeds the level believed to cause 10 additional cancer cases per million people exposed to the product, the group said.

The president of the California Retailers Association declined to comment, saying he had not yet seen the documents.

Tris and other flame retardants have been in wide use since California passed a 1975 law requiring that foam in furniture and many children’s items be able to withstand a small open flame for 12 seconds without igniting.

That led to changes across the nation as many product manufacturers adopted the strict California standards for all of their products.

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