Legislature(2011 - 2012)BARNES 124

04/12/2012 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Heard & Held
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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
        SB 27-FLAME RETARDANTS /CHEMICALS CLEARINGHOUSE                                                                     
3:49:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  announced that  the next order  of business  would be                                                              
CS  FOR  SENATE  BILL  NO. 27(HSS),  "An  Act  relating  to  flame                                                              
retardants  and  to the  manufacture,  sale, and  distribution  of                                                              
products  containing flame  retardants; relating  to a  multistate                                                              
chemicals clearinghouse; and providing for an effective date."                                                                  
3:50:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SAM  GOTTSTEIN, Staff,  Senator  Bill Wielechowski,  Alaska  State                                                              
Legislature,  responded  to  earlier  testimony  on  the  proposed                                                              
Environmental Protection  Agency's (EPA) voluntary phase  out.  He                                                              
related his understanding  that the EPA's phase-out  is a proposed                                                              
voluntary phase out  for U.S. manufacturers to be done  at the end                                                              
of  2013,  prior to  the  effective  date  of  SB 27,  Version  E.                                                              
However,  Version E  does not  affect imports  so eventually  U.S.                                                              
manufacturers may  be complying with the voluntary  phase out, but                                                              
the U.S. could  still import toxic chemicals into  Alaska with the                                                              
number of  known health  effects.   He related numerous  questions                                                              
on  the definitions  in  the bill  were raised.    He offered  his                                                              
belief  that  SB  27  seems  the  intent  is  to  protect  Alaskan                                                              
retailers.    He emphasized  that  SB  27  is friendly  to  Alaska                                                              
businesses and protects  retailers in the state.   He related that                                                              
SB 27  addresses some  of the  concerns raised  by the  committee.                                                              
First,  it would delay  the effective  date until  2014.   Second,                                                              
the bill will exempt  used products, such as items  sold in thrift                                                              
stores.   Additionally, the bill  would apply to  products brought                                                              
into Alaska  prior to the effective  date.  Thus a  local retailer                                                              
or  manufacturer/distributor   could   bring  in  products   until                                                              
December 31,  2013 and sell  those products at  a later date.   He                                                              
suggested this should  allow ample time for retailers  to shift to                                                              
safe  products.   He  highlighted  that 12  other  states and  the                                                              
European  Union and Wal-Mart  have already  banned the  chemicals.                                                              
He referred  to definitions  for distributors  and retailers.   He                                                              
offered his  belief that if he  bought something from  Costco that                                                              
Costco  would be  acting  as a  retailer and  the  sale would  not                                                              
apply  to this  bill.    He pointed  out  that he  has  researched                                                              
Mattress  Ranch,  which sells  approximately  ten  brand names  of                                                              
mattresses  with different styles.   He  offered his belief  those                                                              
brands would  be considered the  manufacturers while  the Mattress                                                              
Ranch  is  considered  the  retailer.   He  suggested  that  Terry                                                              
Bannister, the bill  drafter, is available to answer  questions on                                                              
definitions in more detail.                                                                                                     
3:53:21 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GOTTSTEIN  stated that  more importantly  is to ensure  Alaska                                                              
businesses  will  not  penalized.     He  suggested  the  DEC  has                                                              
indicated that  using fines are used  as a last resort.   Further,                                                              
similar  pieces of  legislation have  been passed,  but fines  are                                                              
typically not used by the DEC.                                                                                                  
3:54:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON   asked  whether  Wal-Mart   has  taken  a                                                              
position on the bill.                                                                                                           
MR. GOTTSTEIN  recalled that from  previous testimony on  the bill                                                              
by some  people who  have worked with  Wal-Mart that  Wal-Mart has                                                              
worked  to ensure  their  products  are PBDE  free.   He  recalled                                                              
during  the  previous  summer  that  Wal-Mart  performed  enhanced                                                              
testing  procedures to  ensure their  products are  PBDE free  and                                                              
Wal-Mart  has  broadcast  to  its suppliers  that  they  will  not                                                              
accept products  containing the  toxic chemicals.   He  offered to                                                              
provide more specific details.                                                                                                  
3:55:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON recalled that  Wal-Mart has  opposed flame                                                              
retardant bills in  the past, but it may have been  in response to                                                              
last  year's  bill.    He pointed  out  that  Wal-Mart  is  acting                                                              
voluntarily, which  he suggested provide a much  smoother business                                                              
transition for them than to have it mandated.                                                                                   
3:55:46 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF TUCKER,  Fire Chief;, North  Star Volunteer  Fire Department,                                                              
Immediate   Past  President,  Alaska   Fire  Chiefs'   Association                                                              
(AFCA), stated that  the AFCA supports the phase out  of PBDEs due                                                              
to concerns with  the health risks associated with  exposure.  The                                                              
AFCA believes  that the bill is  a step in the right  direction to                                                              
improve the  health and safety  of firefighters in  the community.                                                              
He  also   stated  that   protecting  firefighters   and  building                                                              
occupants is  critical, but  these goals  can be achieved  without                                                              
exposing themselves  to this particular class of  toxic chemicals.                                                              
He  pointed out  that  when PBDEs  burn  they  release fumes  that                                                              
reduce visibility  and produce highly  corrosive gases.   The AFCA                                                              
supports the  use of  flame retardants  since alternatives  do not                                                              
contain bromine.   He encouraged committee members to  pass the CS                                                              
for SB 27.                                                                                                                      
3:57:08 PM                                                                                                                    
KRISTIN  RYAN,   Director,  Division   of  Environmental   Health,                                                              
Department  of  Environmental  Conservation   (DEC),  stated  that                                                              
civil fines  are simply one  tool in the  DEC's toolbox.   The DEC                                                              
has several  programs with regulatory  authority to  assess fines,                                                              
but  fines  are  a  rare  tool   and  represent  the  last  resort                                                              
typically  used  for  noncompliance.    She  referred  to  earlier                                                              
discussions which  clarify that a retailer is  selling directly to                                                              
a consumer  whereas a  distributor is  someone selling  to another                                                              
distributor or a  retailer.  She pointed out that  this bill seems                                                              
to  target  manufacturers  and   distributors,  which  would  most                                                              
likely be out of  state companies.  She reported  she spoke to her                                                              
counterparts  in some  Pacific Northwest  states,  such as  Oregon                                                              
and Washington  have  similar programs.   She  said the DEC  would                                                              
have  a pathway  to  implement  its program  in  the  state.   She                                                              
stated that  the DEC has  a fish tissue  testing program  that has                                                              
collected over 500  samples of fish statewide that  contain PBDEs.                                                              
She reported  that the DEC is  finding PBDEs at various  levels in                                                              
the state.   She emphasized that  the most likely source  of PBDEs                                                              
is  in  homes  and  from discharge  via  septic  systems  and  the                                                              
wastewater treatment  plants - which  do not remove  the chemicals                                                              
-  and  not  the  environment.     Thus  if  Alaska's  environment                                                              
contains  PBDEs our  homes also  contain PBDEs.   She  highlighted                                                              
some evidence that  PBDEs show up in our fish, but  she stated she                                                              
has not done  much research into the human exposure  element since                                                              
it  falls   under  a  different   department's  authority.     She                                                              
concluded  that the  DEC's fish  tissue testing  program has  been                                                              
reviewing mercury  and other contaminants of a  health concern are                                                              
starting to find PBDEs as well.                                                                                                 
4:00:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked for an explanation  about the septic                                                              
system.  He asked for the linkage.                                                                                              
MS.  RYAN  answered  that  she can  provide  some  materials  that                                                              
identify  the pathway.   She  said that  it has  been pretty  well                                                              
documented  that flame retardants  exist  in personal products  in                                                              
our  homes,  in  products  such  as  televisions,  computers,  and                                                              
couches.  The polymer  does not bind with the product  it has been                                                              
applied to  so PBDEs falls out as  dust, is consumed by  people as                                                              
they touch  the products, and passes  through our bodies  into the                                                              
sewage  outfalls.    Further,  the   products  enter  the  pathway                                                              
through the process  of washing clothing.  She  clarified that the                                                              
PBDEs are not added to clothing.                                                                                                
4:02:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked for a list of the source  of the 500                                                              
fish samples at some point.                                                                                                     
MS. RYAN agreed to provide it.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON further asked  broadly which  fish species                                                              
were sampled.                                                                                                                   
MS. RYAN  answered that salmon and  Arctic char were tested.   She                                                              
offered her belief  that the most disturbing aspect  discovered in                                                              
sampling is  that the small fry  seems to have the  highest levels                                                              
of  PBDEs.   She  suggested this  may  be a  biomass  issue.   She                                                              
concluded  that the  department  has sampled  a  large variety  of                                                              
species of fish found in Alaska.                                                                                                
4:03:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON further  asked for  the percentage  of the                                                              
fish that had some contamination.                                                                                               
MS. RYAN answered  yes.  She offered to provide all  the data.  In                                                              
further  response to  Representative  Johnson,  she confirmed  the                                                              
department has  found various levels  depending on the  species of                                                              
fish, the geographic area, and the age of the fish.                                                                             
4:03:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON asked  her to  respond to  the direction  the EPA  is                                                              
taking on PBDEs.                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN offered  her belief that  the EPA is trying to  ban flame                                                              
retardants  since they  are  dangerous to  public  health and  are                                                              
persistent in  our environment.   Unfortunately, in her  view, the                                                              
EPA does  not have  adequate authority to  deal with  chemicals in                                                              
personal  products  so  they  cannot ban  them  even  though  they                                                              
described  in the  Federal  Register  their concerns  about  flame                                                              
retardants and  the risks.   She reported  the EPA has  banned new                                                              
uses  of  flame  retardants;  however they  have  been  unable  to                                                              
restrict the use  of chemicals already in commerce.   She referred                                                              
to  voluntary measures  which are  related to  agreements the  EPA                                                              
has made  with local manufacturers  in the U.S. to  stop producing                                                              
the chemicals  and  use alternatives.   She said  that process  is                                                              
proceeding,  but the  majority of  the  products containing  flame                                                              
retardants do not come from the U.S.                                                                                            
4:05:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON asked  whether the  EPA has  gone far  enough or  too                                                              
MS. RYAN  offered her believe that  the PBDEs in  flame retardants                                                              
are problematic so she thinks a ban is a good thing.                                                                            
4:05:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON  recalled   some  doctors  think  banning                                                              
PBDEs  is  premature.     He  asked  whether   enough  alternative                                                              
products exist to  protect children from burns.   He further asked                                                              
whether the  new products have been  tested and if  other problems                                                              
may arise in a few years.                                                                                                       
MS.  RYAN agreed  with the  concern.   She stated  the bill  would                                                              
give the  department the ability  to consider the  alternatives to                                                              
flame  retardants  and assess  the  risks.    She said  there  are                                                              
alternatives  and  several  states  have  banned  PBDES  and  some                                                              
companies  are using  safer alternatives.   She  noted that  PBDEs                                                              
give  people  about 11  more  seconds  to  flee.   She  related  a                                                              
scenario in  which a  person is  on a bed  which catches  on fire,                                                              
and if the mattress  contains PBDEs the person would  have 11 more                                                              
seconds before  the mattress bursts  into flames.  She  was unsure                                                              
the 11  seconds was  worth the risk  from chemicals  persisting in                                                              
the  environment.   She  said products  are  being  made in  safer                                                              
ways.  She  explained that cigarettes  go out as do candles.   She                                                              
pointed  out that  improvements in  fire safety  have occurred  in                                                              
past 20 years.   She emphasized that alternatives  have been found                                                              
to be safer than PBDEs.                                                                                                         
4:08:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  clarified  that  the  11  seconds  is  the                                                              
escape  time flame  retardants provide  as compared  to not  using                                                              
any  alternative fire  safety.   She  further  clarified that  the                                                              
bill  is  not  advocating  not  using  other  fire  safety.    She                                                              
reiterated  that using  PBDEs  would provide  11  seconds more  as                                                              
opposed  to not  using  any of  the  fire safety  alternatives  in                                                              
mattresses or furniture.                                                                                                        
MS. RYAN answered yes.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE   HOLMES  emphasized   that  the   bill  does   not                                                              
advocating giving  up the  11 seconds, but  rather to  use another                                                              
type of flame retardant.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON remarked that 11 seconds is a long time.                                                                 
CHAIR OLSON  remarked that  everyone around  the table  figures 11                                                              
seconds could help them flee from the bedroom.                                                                                  
4:09:00 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID HEIMBACH,  Physician, speaking on behalf of  himself, stated                                                              
that  he  has  served  as  the   director  of  the  University  of                                                              
Washington  (UW)  Burn Center  in  Seattle,  Washington.   For  35                                                              
years  the UW  Burn Center  has treated  almost all  of the  major                                                              
burns in  Alaska and  for the last  10 years  have treated  all of                                                              
them since the burn  unit in Alaska is closed.   He stated that he                                                              
has  served as  the President  of the  American Burn  Association,                                                              
the International  Society for Burn  Injury, and has  been awarded                                                              
numerous  awards for his  work in  developing countries  regarding                                                              
burn and  fire safety.   He made  three points.   First,  there is                                                              
not any  question that  fire retardants give  people more  time to                                                              
escape fires.   The  burn center  cares of  900 burn patients  per                                                              
year.   He clarified  he is speaking  not for  the burn  center or                                                              
UW,  but  for  himself.   About  one-third  of  his  patients  are                                                              
children.    The  vast  majority  of  his  juvenile  patients  are                                                              
covered under Medicaid.   The other people at risk,  who need that                                                              
11 seconds  to escape is  the elderly -  which he actually  thinks                                                              
it is longer  than 11 seconds -  but the elderly are  also at risk                                                              
for not  being able  to get  out from  a fire  quickly.  It  costs                                                              
approximately $6,000  per day in the burn center's  intensive care                                                              
unit (ICU).   A  child with a  40 percent  of his/her  body burned                                                              
will  likely stay  in the  hospital  for 1.5  to 2  days for  each                                                              
percentage of  burn.  This would  total about 80 days  stay in the                                                              
ICU for  a cost of  $500,000, which is  a substantial cost  to the                                                              
state.   He calculated by  multiplying the  cost by the  number of                                                              
patients  gives the  sense of  the  substantial expenses  incurred                                                              
for burn  patients.   He cautioned  members to  be careful  before                                                              
banning substances  and to compare the risks  to the consequences.                                                              
Second,  he suggested  that Dr.  Gordon Nelson  would discuss  the                                                              
safety  issues.   He  said he  has  no problem  with  polybromides                                                              
being  banned since  they  are being  voluntarily  removed by  the                                                              
EPA.    He  turned  to  the  earlier   comments  on  the  risk  to                                                              
firefighters,  who are  concerned  about inhalation.   He  pointed                                                              
out  that pure  pine smoke  in and  of itself  contains 250  known                                                              
toxic  chemicals, which  can be  tripled for  plastics since  they                                                              
contain  about  700  toxic  chemicals.    The  addition  of  small                                                              
amounts  of the  newer products  does not  add to  the problem  of                                                              
smoke  inhalation.    He  reiterated that  he  has  studied  smoke                                                              
inhalation  his   entire  medical  career.    He   reiterated  his                                                              
cautions.   Be careful  about banning products  shown to  be safe.                                                              
The  U.S.  is  removing  the  ones that  have  been  shown  to  be                                                              
harmful.  The  European Union and Environmental  Protection Agency                                                              
(EPA) and  Canada have declared  the newer products to  be without                                                              
risk to humans.                                                                                                                 
4:14:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  asked  whether  he  was  speaking  for  or                                                              
against the bill.  She has heard good substitutes are available.                                                                
DR.  HEIMBACH answered  that  he  is not  supporting  SB  27.   He                                                              
explained not good  substitutes that have been studied  as much as                                                              
the current chemicals.   It would be necessary to  watch these new                                                              
chemicals  for 10-15  years before  they get  into the food  chain                                                              
and environment.   He reiterated the new chemicals  are not tested                                                              
and  may  cause   cancer  or  other  issues.     He  related  that                                                              
children's sleepwear  now is tighter  fitting than it once  was so                                                              
it does not  require flame retardants.   In 1972, kids  would lick                                                              
their clothes  and the chemicals were  found to be mutagenic.   He                                                              
pointed out that  now that clothes are better, but  there is not a                                                              
chemical  substitute  for  anything   that  resembles  the  safety                                                              
provided  by the  PBDEs.   He  related that  Dr.  Nelson could  to                                                              
speak to this.                                                                                                                  
4:16:11 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVE RUBRIGHT,  on behalf of  himself, related his  understanding                                                              
that  some  alternatives  exist,   but  he  hasn't  heard  of  any                                                              
substitute  for fire  retardants  that seems  to save  lives.   He                                                              
recalled  testimony   that  new  drugs  could  be   studied.    He                                                              
commented that  fire spreads  quickly and 11  seconds is a  lot of                                                              
time during  a fire.   He thinks this  bill is premature  since in                                                              
2013 the  federal government  is taking  a nationwide  approach to                                                              
address the issue.  He expressed concern about the bill.                                                                        
4:17:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON responded  that this  bill has an  effective  date of                                                              
July  1,   2014,  in  order  to   allow  the  EPA   to  promulgate                                                              
regulations  and  give  the  states time  to  decide  whether  the                                                              
regulations are adequate or if other changes are necessary.                                                                     
4:18:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHARLES KLEVER,  speaking on behalf  of himself, related he  is in                                                              
the construction  industry.  He  expressed interest in the  use of                                                              
PBDEs  since flame  retardants  are used  in  welding clothes  and                                                              
other shop  clothing.  He noted  an exemption for  industrial use;                                                              
however,  he was  unsure about  the industrial  use for  clothing.                                                              
He also  shared his concern  about testimony that  indicates PBDEs                                                              
were studied for  a couple of years; however, the  levels were not                                                              
quantified.   He said a couple years  of study does not  seem like                                                              
due diligence.   Additionally,  he  is from Oregon.   He  recalled                                                              
the  DEC suggested  following  Oregon; however,  he  characterized                                                              
following Oregon as a slippery slope.                                                                                           
4:20:31 PM                                                                                                                    
PAMELA  MILLER, Executive  Director;  Biologist, Alaska  Community                                                              
Action  on Toxics,  stated that  she previously  testified and  is                                                              
speaking strongly  in support of  SB 27 for public  health reasons                                                              
and  to  protect vulnerable  populations  including  children  and                                                              
4:21:26 PM                                                                                                                    
ANDREW  MCGUIRE,   Executive  Director,  Trauma   Foundation,  San                                                              
Francisco Hospital,  stated he has been involved in  fire and burn                                                              
prevention  for 39 years.   He  stated he  has led two  successful                                                              
campaigns.   First,  he led  a campaign  to  get children  pajamas                                                              
mandated  flame  resistant  as an  effort  in  Massachusetts  that                                                              
became a  federal standard.   The standard for children's  pajamas                                                              
took effect  in the  early 70s and  by March  1977, there  were no                                                              
longer   chemicals  used   in   children's   pajamas.     Instead,                                                              
children's pajamas  were made out of modaacrylic  and polyester or                                                              
other  synthetic fibers,  but  without using  any  chemicals.   He                                                              
pointed out  that synthetic  fibers are fire  resistant.   Thus he                                                              
clarified that  chemicals are  not used in  clothing.   Second, he                                                              
led  a  campaign  to mandate  that  all  cigarettes  become  self-                                                              
extinguishing  or fire safe  so they do  not ignite  mattresses or                                                              
furniture.     He  clarified  that   manufacturers  do   not  make                                                              
cigarettes  safe  by adding  chemicals.   Instead,  the  cigarette                                                              
paper is  slightly thicker  in several  areas since oxygen  cannot                                                              
penetrate the thicker paper.                                                                                                    
4:23:29 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.   MCGUIRE  answered   several   questions   raised.     First,                                                              
manufacturers  can make  fire  safe mattresses,  electronics,  and                                                              
furniture without  using chemicals.  He stated  that is absolutely                                                              
true  for upholstered  furniture,  in  fact,  there is  a  federal                                                              
draft  standard by  the U.S.  Consumer  Product Safety  Commission                                                              
that  many believe  will be  promulgated in  the next  year or  so                                                              
which lays  out all  criteria.   He elaborated that  it has  to do                                                              
with  the  weave  and  thickness  of fabric  and  if  a  synthetic                                                              
barrier or  cloth can  be used  between the  fabric and  the foam.                                                              
More  importantly, when  it comes  to furniture  the standard  for                                                              
furniture  in North  America is  to  add flame  retardants to  the                                                              
foam  of furniture,  not to  the fabric.   He  offered his  belief                                                              
that it has  been shown in  the peer review literature  that flame                                                              
retardants  does  not offer  fire  safety  since  the way  a  fire                                                              
starts is the fabric  ignites first.  Once the  fabric ignites the                                                              
flames  are large  enough to  overcome the  fire retardant  safety                                                              
factor in  the foam.   He suggested that  if people wanted  to use                                                              
flame retardants  effectively, the flame retardants  would be used                                                              
in the fabric and  not underneath the fabric.   He emphasized that                                                              
there is  not any  peer review literature  or scientific  articles                                                              
on the efficacy of fire safety of chemicals used in furniture.                                                                  
MR. MCGUIRE  stated that secondly, the  data does not show  a fire                                                              
problem  exists  for cases  -  containing  chemicals used  in  the                                                              
plastic cabinets  - of televisions and other  electronic products;                                                              
however,  there is a  push by  the chemical  industry for  a flame                                                              
standard  so   a  candle  can't   ignite  a  plastic  case.     He                                                              
highlighted  that   electronic  fires   typically  start   on  the                                                              
interior with overheating of products inside the television.                                                                    
MR.  MCGUIRE  pointed out  other  methods  exist for  fire  safety                                                              
without  adding PBDEs  or other  fire retardant  chemicals to  the                                                              
plastic.    He  cautioned  that  a  phony  organization  has  been                                                              
created  by chemical  industry called  Citizens  for Fire  Safety.                                                              
He  pointed  out  that  when  Dr.   David  Heimbach  testified  in                                                              
California the  last time  he testified he  said, under  oath, his                                                              
way was had  been paid to  that hearing by the  chemical industry.                                                              
He said  the same  is true  with Dr.  Gordon Nelson.   He  related                                                              
they  were  the only  outsiders  to  testify  on a  related  fire-                                                              
retardant issue  and they both claimed  their way was paid  by the                                                              
chemical  industry.   He  offered  his  belief that  when  someone                                                              
identifies  their   affiliation  they  should  also   include  the                                                              
information  that they  are  speaking on  behalf  of the  chemical                                                              
industry.   He  said the  IRS 990  filings for  Citizens for  Fire                                                              
Safety states its  mission as one "to promote  the common business                                                              
interests  of  the chemical  manufacturing  industry."    However,                                                              
their  website  indicated  the   organization  was  founded  as  a                                                              
California nonprofit  seeking to educate  the public on  fire safe                                                              
practices within  the home as well as empower  those organizations                                                              
charged  with protecting  the public  safety.   He reiterated  his                                                              
belief  that this is  a phony  organization.   Further, a  similar                                                              
organization  was created  by the  tobacco industry  to fight  the                                                              
fire  safe cigarette  campaign  for  28 years.    He surmised  the                                                              
person  ultimately  behind  creating  the  phony  organization  on                                                              
behalf of the tobacco  institute is the same person  who works for                                                              
the  chemical  industry to  help  create  this organization.    He                                                              
emphasized  that legislators  must  be alerted  to  the fact  that                                                              
these groups  are created  with names  that sound legitimate,  but                                                              
are simply funded by the chemical or tobacco industry.                                                                          
4:28:37 PM                                                                                                                    
GORDON  NELSON,   PhD,  Vice   President  for  Academic   Affairs;                                                              
Professor of  Chemistry, Florida  Institute of Technology,  stated                                                              
that he is  a university chemistry professor  at Florida Institute                                                              
of Technology.  He  said he has had a long career  in academia and                                                              
industry.   He  related  he has  been  burning  plastic items  and                                                              
working on  flame retardants for about  30 years.  He  said he has                                                              
been interested  in listening to the testimony,  but unfortunately                                                              
there is  a lot  of information  that does  not provide  the total                                                              
picture.  First,  he reported that the EPA voluntary  phase out is                                                              
not  proposed, but  is  underway.   The  agreements were  executed                                                              
with  EPA on  December  15,  2009 by  each  of the  three  world's                                                              
largest flame retardant  suppliers.  The agreement  indicated that                                                              
by December  31, 2010, the  sales of decaBDE  would be  phased out                                                              
for  electrical  and  electronic   equipment.    Additionally,  by                                                              
December 31,  2012, all uses  except transportation  military will                                                              
be phased out.   He reiterated that the agreement  is an agreement                                                              
between the  three suppliers  and the  EPA, which included  phase-                                                              
out of imports as  well.  He stated this affects  not just what is                                                              
being manufactured  in the U.S.,  but also their  involvement with                                                              
4:31:14 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. NELSON  he pointed  out that  pentaBDE and  octaBDE BDEs  have                                                              
not  been manufactured  since 2004.   He  suggested the  committee                                                              
may  wish  to  think  about codifying  the  EPA  agreements.    He                                                              
identified two  differences between SB  27 and the  EPA phase-out.                                                              
First, the  phase out include  military uses, specifically,  since                                                              
those can  be large products  and difficult to find  alternatives.                                                              
Second, the  EPA agreement  exempts products  from recycling.   He                                                              
pointed  out that  post-consumer  recycle  of products  containing                                                              
decaBDE  is not  affected.   Further,  the sale  of products  made                                                              
from recycled products containing PBDEs will not be affected.                                                                   
4:32:45 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. NELSON  stated  in the 1970s  he worked  for General  Electric                                                              
Corporation  and during  that time  he  burned some  of the  first                                                              
televisions made  with decaBDE and polystyrene.   He reported that                                                              
the number  one application for  decaBDE has been  in televisions,                                                              
but not in  computers.  He related  that in the U.S.  in the 1970s                                                              
there were  200 fire deaths per  year caused by  television fires,                                                              
800 life-  threatening fires, and  20,000 television fires  in the                                                              
nation.  The  Underwriters  Laboratories  (UL)  requirements  came                                                              
forward with  a voluntary  standard, which was  used instead  of a                                                              
mandatory process.   He  stated that  the team questioned  whether                                                              
the requirements  to go  to flame retardant  plastic would  make a                                                              
difference.  He  described the testing procedures  for televisions                                                              
by  igniting the  tuner bracket  to  create an  internal fire  and                                                              
without flame  retardants in  three parts  - the antenna  bracket,                                                              
the tuner bracket,  and the enclosure - the tests  created a life-                                                              
threatening  fire from  a single  television in  a 10  by 10  foot                                                              
room in  five minutes.   Additionally,  the team  tested the  same                                                              
three  parts made  using polystyrene  containing  decaBDE and  was                                                              
not  able to  ignite the  parts,  even using  outside ignition  by                                                              
using paper.   Instead, the enclosure  melted.  Finally,  the team                                                              
concluded  that  the  use  of  flame  retardants  would  eliminate                                                              
deaths  from  televisions  and that  is  what  has happened.    He                                                              
concluded that  when people say  the use of flame  retardants does                                                              
not have a substantial life-safety record they are wrong.                                                                       
4:36:09 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. NELSON  turned to  the extra 11  seconds escape  time provided                                                              
by flame retardants.   He offered  his belief that is  a test with                                                              
no relationship  to a risk  for fire, as  amplified by the  use of                                                              
flame  retardants in  televisions.   The  purpose  of using  flame                                                              
retardants is  to eliminate fires,  make some fires  much smaller,                                                              
and  make other  fires take  a much  longer  time to  ignite.   He                                                              
agreed  with  earlier testimony  that  11  seconds could  allow  a                                                              
person to escape.                                                                                                               
4:36:52 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  NELSON  recalled   earlier  testimony  on  proposal   by  the                                                              
Consumer Product  Safety Commission's (CPSC)proposal  to upholster                                                              
furniture using  a smoldering test.   He said that CPSC  has tried                                                              
with extensive  furniture  industry opposition  to get a  national                                                              
test for furniture  for decades.  The use of  smoldering only test                                                              
rather than  an open flame as  used in California belies  the fact                                                              
that 50 percent  of fire deaths from upholstered  furniture in the                                                              
U.S.  are caused  from  open flame  or electrical  sources  rather                                                              
than  cigarettes.    He  credited the  statistics  to  the  latest                                                              
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics.                                                                         
4:37:45 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  NELSON said  first,  pentaBDE and  octaBDE  no longer  exist.                                                              
Second, the  EPA has a detailed  process which will lead  to phase                                                              
out for  decaBDE, which is largely  completed.  Finally,  he spoke                                                              
to  the  difficulty   the  department  will  have   to  find  fire                                                              
retardant   alternatives.      He  acknowledged   there   may   be                                                              
alternatives,  but  asked  whether  the  product  will  serve  the                                                              
function.   He offered  his  belief that  is will  not be easy  to                                                              
determine since  hundreds of flame  retardants exist, but  not all                                                              
work  in every  circumstances which  is  why decaBDE  was used  in                                                              
televisions  and pentaBDE  was  used  in foam.    He related  that                                                              
decaBDE  is used  in  sophisticated  materials, such  as  shipping                                                              
pallets; however,  the most promising  alternatives end up  with a                                                              
substantially  heavier  pallet,  which is  above  50 pounds.    He                                                              
stated that 50 pounds  is the limit that a single  person may lift                                                              
under  Occupational   Safety  and  Health   Administration  (OSHA)                                                              
regulations so  the alternative does  not allow the product  to be                                                              
used.    He  predicted  the DEC  will  have  grave  difficulty  in                                                              
finding  alternatives that  are  safer for  the  environment.   He                                                              
urged members not to support SB 27.                                                                                             
4:40:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES related her  understanding all  three forms                                                              
of the  PBDEs are going  to be phased out  by the EPA  long before                                                              
the bill  goes into effect  so she did  not understand  the reason                                                              
to object to the bill.                                                                                                          
DR. NELSON  answered that pentaBDE  and octaBDE aren't  being made                                                              
and decaBDE  is in  a phase-out  process.   He offered  his belief                                                              
that SB  27 does not exempt  military or post-consumer  recycling,                                                              
which  would  be permitted  under  the  EPA.    He said  he  fully                                                              
understands  the reasons legislators  may want  to codify  the EPA                                                              
agreement,  but certainly  there  are some  chemical suppliers  in                                                              
China  and other  places;  however,  the voluntary  agreement  has                                                              
been  carefully crafted  and  the  exemptions are  in  place.   He                                                              
submitted  that the  bill certainly  won't do  much to change  the                                                              
disappearance  of  the  phase-out  that is  already  underway  for                                                              
4:42:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked for the history of the chemicals.                                                                  
DR.  NELSON answered  that decaBDE  was invented  by DOW  Chemical                                                              
Company,  which   was  extensively  tested.    He   reported  this                                                              
discovery  came at  a time  when televisions  were burgeoning  and                                                              
the  fire issue  had emerged.   He  related that  decaBDE was  the                                                              
perfect  flame  retardant  for   polystyrene.    He  reported  the                                                              
requirements  for televisions  were imposed  between July  1, 1975                                                              
and  1979 and  television  manufacturers  began using  decaBDE  in                                                              
1975.   He  recapped  that decaBDE  was invented  in  70s and  was                                                              
heavily into market by 1975.                                                                                                    
4:43:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON asked for  the length  of time  before the                                                              
"red flag" went up to indicate decaBDE posed health hazards.                                                                    
MR. NELSON answered it took approximately 20 years.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON asked  whether  it may  take  20 years  to                                                              
find  out   if  new  chemicals   used  as  flame   retardants  are                                                              
MR.   NELSON  responded   that   decaBDE   passed  European   risk                                                              
assessments,  unlike pentaBDE  and  octaBDE, which  did not  pass.                                                              
He said that  decaBDE was extensively  tested by DOW in  1970.  He                                                              
offered  his  belief that  decaBDE  is  not a  horrendously  toxic                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON said  his  point is  that any  replacement                                                              
may  be  worse   for  the  environment  than  the   current  flame                                                              
MR. NELSON  said he somewhat  agrees, but  in Europe and  the U.S.                                                              
use more  extensive topological  testing  is occurring today  than                                                              
they  did 30  years  ago.   He  predicted  that  that  it will  be                                                              
possible to understand  things faster, in fact, a  large number of                                                              
flame  retardant  chemicals  have  been  extensively  examined  in                                                              
4:45:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  cautioned  against  moving  forward  with                                                              
chemicals that are  not as effective and could be  more toxic.  He                                                              
offered his belief that the EPA phase-out is preferable.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  recalled his testimony that  pentaBDE and                                                              
octaBDE  are no longer  being made  but asked  about imports  from                                                              
China.  He questioned whether the chemicals are being made.                                                                     
MR.  NELSON  answered  that  China   is  not  using  pentaBDE  and                                                              
4:46:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON asked  whether he could identify the  number of deaths                                                              
from decaBDE, pentaBDE, octaBDE per year.                                                                                       
MR. NELSON  answered that  in terms of  toxicity to  his knowledge                                                              
there were none.                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  pointed out  that these  chemicals are hazardous  but                                                              
the impacts are unknown.                                                                                                        
MR.  NELSON  identified  this  as   an  important  question.    He                                                              
emphasized that  decaBDE has saved  people's lives which  has been                                                              
quantified;  however,  he  was   not  aware  of  any  papers  that                                                              
quantify   deaths  from   the   topological   properties  of   the                                                              
4:47:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  commented that  the U.S. can  quantify the  number of                                                              
smokers that  die each  year from cigarette  use, but  the numbers                                                              
are not available  for these chemicals.  He wondered  if this bill                                                              
is premature.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  OLSON,  after  first  determining  no one  else  wished  to                                                              
testify, closed public testimony on SB 27.                                                                                      
[SB 27 was held over.]                                                                                                          
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
4:49:49 PM                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB266 Draft Proposed CS version Y.pdf HL&C 4/12/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 266
SB119 Draft Proposed Amendment-Holmes.pdf HL&C 4/12/2012 3:15:00 PM
SB 119