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February 16, 2007

State House Passes Ground-Breaking PBDE Ban

By a vote of 71-24, the State House passed a ground-breaking ban on industrial retardants known as PBDE's.  The environmental coalition, Priorities for a Healthy Washington, has four priorities for legislation this session and this is the first of the four to be voted on.  They say that these three toxic chemicals have been found in rapidly increasing amounts in our bodies, mother's milk, orcas and salmon in Puget Sound and along the Spokane River. 

This bill, introduced by Rep. Ross Hunter of the 48th LD, if passed by the State Senate and signed by the Governor, would be the first in the nation to ban the three chemicals (with limited exceptions).  A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Debbie Regala of the 27th but, as often happens, the second chamber to vote usually votes on the same bill that passed the first chamber.  HB 1024 has been endorsed by a broad coalition of environmentalists, doctors, nurses, fire fighters and scientists.   The fire fighters came aboard this year for the first time because they have been assured that there are good alternatives that can be used as flame retardants. 

From the Press Release sent out by the Democrats after the vote today.

"For three years I've been fighting to turn off the spigot of toxic poisons coming into our state and harming our kids," Hunter said. "Today marks a big win for the health and safety of the kids in our state."

HB 1024 phases out use of a toxic flame retardant known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. PBDEs are used in a wide range of common household products such as mattresses and laptops. Research has linked exposure to the chemical with a wide range of adverse health effects, and kids are considered most susceptible to the risk.

The only group working actively against the bill has been the chemical lobbying groups.  They've been fighting it hard since, if Washington State takes the lead, other states are likely to follow.  Yeah for us!

Needless to say, the Republicans who voted against it, are claiming the usual nonsense: 

Representative Bill Hinkle, of the 13th LD, claims that the science doesn't support this yet.  (It does.)

Representative Mike Armstrong, of the 12th LD, says that once upon a time we banned another toxic chemical and then the science changed to say it was okay.  (Um, possibly.  So, what does that say about these poisons?)

Representative Daniel Newhouse, of the 15th, claims that one of the three substances to be banned degrades slowly and isn't as dangerous as the other two.  (So, I wonder what his grandchildren would say to that?)

Representative Ed Orcutt, of the 18th, questions which whales are being effected.  (Excuse me, I'd like children as yet unborn to have a chance to see orcas in Puget Sound.)

So, aren't you glad you voted and worked to have more Democrats in our state legislature?  I am. 

For more information, check out the Priorities for a Healthy Washington site. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on February 16, 2007 at 05:17 PM in Policy | Permalink


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