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California Regulators Target Toxic Chemicals in Three Products



The children’s foam nap mats contain a flame retardant linked to cancer. Spray foam insulation commonly used to weatherize homes can contain unreacted di-isocyanates. Use of the chemical is one of the leading causes of occupational asthma in the country. Paint strippers contain methylene chloride. Dr. Meredith Williams with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control says when that chemical is metabolized, it becomes carbon monoxide.

“And then it becomes an acute neurotoxin and in fact, between the year 2000 and 2011 there were 14 deaths in the US related to one profession that uses this extensively and that’s bathtub refinishers,” says Williams.

All the products are on the shelves now and come with warning labels. But California regulators are asking manufacturers to figure out how to make these products safer or limit their use.

“We could ask for more labeling, we could restrict its use to very specific applications," she says. "We could decide that there is not enough known about the chemical and ask the manufacturers to fund additional research.”

Pamela Williams with the California Retailers Association says the children’s nap mats with the flame retardant are practically gone from the market anyway. So the announcement of the targeted products may not change what’s on the shelf.

 “That will be up to the store to decide even though we can sell it, do we want to continue because we do have alternatives to offer,”says Williams.  

This fall DTSC plans to release a much more comprehensive list of products that it may regulate within the next three years.


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