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California Watchdog Group Targets Car Seats Containing Toxic Flame Retardants

California-based consumer watchdog group Center for Environmental Health again made headlines in early March when it initiated legal action under that state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (commonly known as Proposition 65) against a manufacturer of children’s car seats that allegedly contain excessively high levels of the flame retardant chlorinated Tris (tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (also known as TDCPP). CEH contends in a “notice of violation” that these car seats contain TDCPP levels above the Proposition 65 legal standard, with routes of exposure including inhalation, ingestion and/or dermal absorption. According to CEH, independent test results confirmed the presence of TDCPP in several car seats even though the manufacturer had advertised them as “BFR-Free” and “made without the use of toxic brominated and chlorinated chemicals.” Accordingly, CEH is calling on the manufacturer to recall all infringing car seats.

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added TDCPP to the Proposition 65 list of chemicals on 28 October 2011 but manufacturers had until 28 October 2012 to comply with the statutorily required warning requirements. OEHHA subsequently set a safe harbour level of 5.4 micrograms per day for TDCPP, which means that labelling is not required if the exposure if below this level. The state’s Carcinogen Identification Committee indicated when TDCPP was included in the Proposition 65 list that the chemical was clearly shown to cause cancer through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles.

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