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Chemical bans vetoed

Published (5/16/2008)
By Nick Busse
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A proposal to ban two chemicals — a flame retardant and a plastic additive used in children’s toys — was vetoed May 12 by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

In his veto message, Pawlenty said the bill’s legislative mandate “overreaches and goes beyond current scientific research.”

Sponsored by Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville), the bill would have phased out the sale of products containing decabromodiphenyl ether (also known as deca-BDE) beginning July 1, 2010. The chemical, which is used as a flame retardant in televisions, mattresses and a variety of other products, has been linked to developmental problems in animals and children. A Pollution Control Agency report released in January identified several environmental and health concerns associated with it.

Additionally, the bill would have banned children’s products that contain phthalates — a family of chemicals used to make plastic toys more flexible, among other things. Some studies have linked phthalates to a variety of adverse health effects in children.

In regard to deca-BDE, Pawlenty said that no safer alternatives have been proven to exist, and he expressed concern that banning the use of the chemical in children’s clothing may increase the risk of burn injuries to children.

“Banning an effective flame retardant without assurances that safe and reasonable alternatives are in place is unwise public policy,” Pawlenty wrote.

In regard to the phthalates ban, Pawlenty emphasized that “no peer reviewed studies have concluded that these products pose a significant risk to human health.”

Another section of the bill would have required that licensed health care professionals providing prenatal care to pregnant women must provide them with information on all methods of pain relief, “including evidence-based nonpharmacological methods.”


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