Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

03/22/2010 01:30 PM Senate HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved HB 349 Out of Committee
Moved SB 295 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          SB 295-FLAME RETARDANTS AND TOXIC CHEMICALS                                                                       
CHAIR DAVIS announced  the consideration of SB 295.  It was heard                                                               
1:41:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS  HALL, Community  Relations Specialist,  ARC of  Anchorage,                                                               
said he is speaking in favor of  SB 295. He explained that ARC of                                                               
Anchorage  is a  private not-for-profit  organization that  helps                                                               
people  with mental  health and  developmental disabilities  live                                                               
satisfying and  dignified lives.  They are one  of the  more than                                                               
1,000 local chapters nationwide.  He said that these disabilities                                                               
have  multiple  negative  quality  of life  impacts  on  disabled                                                               
individuals and  their families and  cost the state a  great deal                                                               
because of  required special education and  increased health care                                                               
MR.  HALL pointed  out that  the scientific  literature indicates                                                               
that flame retarding chemicals concentrate  in children at higher                                                               
levels  than in  adults. Scientists  recently concluded  that for                                                               
children, inhaling  and ingesting contaminated dust  is likely to                                                               
be an important pathway for exposure  to PBDEs. In the U.S., PBDE                                                               
levels in  tissue and breast milk  are many times higher  than in                                                               
any other country that keeps this  data and appear to be doubling                                                               
every 2-5 years in North America.                                                                                               
Animal  studies   indicate  that  exposure  to   PDBEs  has  been                                                               
associated in  with learning difficulties, IQ,  behavior, delayed                                                               
puberty, reproductive development,  thyroid function, and cancer.                                                               
Scientific  evidence has  demonstrated that  neurological effects                                                               
occur  at  even lower  levels  of  exposure. Children  that  have                                                               
higher  concentrations of  PDBEs  in their  umbilical cord  blood                                                               
scored lower on tests of  mental and physical development between                                                               
age 1 and  6. At age 4 those with  the highest prenatal exposures                                                               
had verbal and IQ scores that were lower by 5.5 to 8 points.                                                                    
MR. HALL concluded  stating that SB 295  is important legislation                                                               
to  help  protect  children  from  needless  exposure  to  PBDEs;                                                               
affordable and effective alternatives are available.                                                                            
1:44:36 PM                                                                                                                    
ROXANNE CHAN,  representing herself,  said that  when she  was in                                                               
high school she  traveled to Europe and spent  one afternoon with                                                               
a friend  picking out the  most perfect shade of  pink fingernail                                                               
polish.  Subsequently she  found  that she  had been  unwittingly                                                               
exposed  to  toxic  chemicals  in  that  polish.  Now  she  is  a                                                               
registered nurse,  an acupuncturist and practitioner  of oriental                                                               
medicine.  She  has  spent  her   adult  life  avoiding  chemical                                                               
exposure yet recent tests revealed  that her body is contaminated                                                               
with a  variety of toxic  chemicals including moderate  levels of                                                               
PBDEs.  For   reasons  that  she   doesn't  understand   she  had                                                               
exceptionally high levels of BEHP, a type of phthalate.                                                                         
MS. CHAN  said that she was  innocent that summer in  junior high                                                               
to the effects of these chemicals;  she expected adults to be her                                                               
guardians. As  publicly elected  officials she  asked legislators                                                               
to become guardians  of the innocent and enact SB  295. There are                                                               
alternatives to polybrominated diphenyl ethers, she said.                                                                       
1:47:36 PM                                                                                                                    
GORDON  NELSON, Dean,  College of  Science, Florida  Institute of                                                               
Technology  (FIT), said  he received  his PhD  in chemistry  from                                                               
Yale and  over the last 35  years his research has  been in flame                                                               
retardants and flame retardant plastics.  Pointing out that penta                                                               
and octa BDE  haven't been manufactured since 2004  and the three                                                               
manufacturers  of deca  agreed with  the U.S.  EPA in  January to                                                               
phase  out production  over three  years, he  opined that  a bill                                                               
like SB  295 isn't  necessary. Rather,  he suggested  letting the                                                               
U.S.  EPA  proceed  unhindered. Furthermore,  it's  important  to                                                               
understand  that after  deca passed  over 1,100  risk assessments                                                               
the 2008  European Union report  determined that it was  safe for                                                               
continued use.                                                                                                                  
MR.  NELSON noted  that SB  295 regulates  mattresses, upholstery                                                               
and  electronic  products  and not  transportation,  but  several                                                               
studies indicate that exposure to  deca in automobiles is several                                                               
times higher than exposure in  a home or office. Furthermore, the                                                               
bill  doesn't deal  with product  end-of-life issues  and in  the                                                               
absence of that  these chemicals will be around  for many decades                                                               
to  come.  He  suggested  that the  Department  of  Environmental                                                               
Conservation  (DEC) will  have difficulty  determining whether  a                                                               
flame retardant  is harmful or  if there are  safer alternatives.                                                               
For example,  a State of Washington  report recommended replacing                                                               
deca  with  triphenyl phosphate  (TPP),  but  TPP isn't  a  flame                                                               
retardant for  polystyrene, which is the  plastic in televisions.                                                               
Second,  TPP has  been cited  as an  endocrine disrupter  and has                                                               
significant toxicity for trout.                                                                                                 
MR. NELSON  said the next  problem with  the bill relates  to the                                                               
definition it gives for a  flame retardant because as a scientist                                                               
he  doesn't   know  what  it  means.   Referencing  the  previous                                                               
testimony, he acknowledged that one  will find 1-200 chemicals in                                                               
any  given person's  blood at  the  part per  billion level;  the                                                               
question is what that means and  if there's any health hazard. He                                                               
urged  the committee  not  to  pass SB  295  because the  state's                                                               
concerns have already been addressed.                                                                                           
1:53:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN asked if the January  2010 phase out was based in                                                               
part on a safety consideration.                                                                                                 
MR.  NELSON  replied  the  risk assessment  in  Europe  said  the                                                               
material is safe for use,  but these manufacturers decided it was                                                               
less trouble to  move to something else. For example,  you can no                                                               
longer buy baby bottles with certain plastics.                                                                                  
SENATOR PASKVAN asked if he  agrees that this bill would prohibit                                                               
products with  penta and octa in  them from being sold  in Alaska                                                               
even if they were last manufactured in 2004.                                                                                    
MR. NELSON  replied you won't  find a  new product with  penta or                                                               
octa  in  it  because  the  material  hasn't  been  available  to                                                               
manufacturers for 6 years.                                                                                                      
SENATOR PASKVAN asked  if stopping manufacture of  penta and octa                                                               
is in part the result of safety considerations.                                                                                 
MR. NELSON  said absolutely; penta and  octa did not pass  the EU                                                               
risk assessment, but deca did pass.                                                                                             
1:57:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THOMAS asked  what harm  there  would be  for Alaska  to                                                               
speed up the phase out of deca within its borders.                                                                              
MR. NELSON  opined that the harm  is that it interferes  with the                                                               
U.S. EPA process.                                                                                                               
SENATOR THOMAS asked if he  agrees that Alaska wouldn't have much                                                               
impact  if it  decided  to  speed up  the  phase  out within  its                                                               
MR. NELSON  said he agreed, but  the result could be  that Alaska                                                               
might  not  have  some  products that  it  otherwise  would  have                                                               
because just one  fire retardant can't be used  for all products.                                                               
He again mentioned  the suggestion in the State  of Washington to                                                               
use triphenyl  phosphate instead  of deca and  said if  that were                                                               
the law a different plastic would  have to be used and that would                                                               
require  product   redesign.  He  continued  to   say  that  it's                                                               
interesting that  the bill  specifically mentions  computers even                                                               
though  deca isn't  used in  computers because  they need  higher                                                               
performing plastics.  Starting in  1975 the  primary use  of deca                                                               
was to  flame retard  polystyrene in  televisions and  the result                                                               
was that the previously high  death rate from television fires in                                                               
the U.S. dropped dramatically.                                                                                                  
2:01:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON asked if he would  agree that it's easier to draw a                                                               
cause  and  effect relationship  in  children's  clothing than  a                                                               
component in a car or a piece of furniture.                                                                                     
MR.  NELSON replied  he agrees  but the  chemicals that  the bill                                                               
proposes to ban aren't used in clothing.                                                                                        
SENATOR DYSON asked what components  are used in automobiles that                                                               
are so much more dangerous than these other applications.                                                                       
MR.  NELSON replied  he  wouldn't use  the  term "dangerous"  but                                                               
automobiles have  high levels of  flame retardant in  the plastic                                                               
and upholstery in the interior.  Because the environment is small                                                               
and closed, human exposure is higher.                                                                                           
SENATOR DYSON asked  if it's difficult to diagnose  the source of                                                               
the  contamination  for people  who  have  high levels  of  these                                                               
MR.  NELSON  said  yes;  several  years ago  members  of  the  EU                                                               
Parliament  were  tested  for  103  chemicals  and  most  of  the                                                               
individuals tested  positive for all. However,  it's difficult to                                                               
know  if it  was  one  element or  a  particular combination.  He                                                               
provided a  personal example relating  to high levels  of arsenic                                                               
in the blood.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  DYSON surmised  that it  would  be difficult  to draw  a                                                               
direct cause and effect  relationship between contemporary levels                                                               
of contamination and the use  of a certain fingernail polish some                                                               
years ago.                                                                                                                      
MR. NELSON agreed heartily.                                                                                                     
SENATOR PASKVAN asked if he's  being paid for his testimony today                                                               
and if so, by whom.                                                                                                             
MR. NELSON  replied he was asked  to testify by the  Citizens for                                                               
Fire Safety (CFS) and would be paid  for his time, but he had not                                                               
reviewed his comments with CFS.                                                                                                 
2:06:18 PM                                                                                                                    
PETER  THERING,  representing himself,  said  he  is a  part-time                                                               
volunteer EMT. After listening to  the testimony last week he did                                                               
his own  research and found  that other burn centers  oppose this                                                               
kind  of bill.  Looking further  he found  that only  four states                                                               
have passed  this type of  legislation because there  aren't safe                                                               
alternatives. The more you learn  the more you'll agree that this                                                               
bill should be held, he concluded.                                                                                              
2:07:53 PM                                                                                                                    
ANNA   GODDUHN,   representing   herself,  said   she's   studied                                                               
environmental toxicology  for several  years and is  concerned by                                                               
the lack of  precaution in chemicals management. A  great deal of                                                               
research  has  been  done  on  the toxicity  of  these  kinds  of                                                               
compounds and  the implications can  be incorporated  into policy                                                               
with  a  simple rule.  That  is  if it's  toxic  to  mice and  it                                                               
accumulates in  human blood and  fat, people shouldn't  be widely                                                               
exposed  to   it.  But  industry  will   never  voluntarily  take                                                               
responsibility for  the real  cost of  their products,  she said.                                                               
Thus,  it's the  Legislature's responsibility  to make  sure that                                                               
industrial activity  is conducted with  regard to risks  to human                                                               
Referencing  previous testimony,  Ms.  Godduhn  said she  doesn't                                                               
agree that  passing this bill  would interfere with the  U.S. EPA                                                               
process  in any  way whatsoever.  Rather, accelerating  the phase                                                               
out would  instead be a major  victory. Quite simply, we  have to                                                               
learn  to  live  without  these and  other  products  that  cause                                                               
tremendous harm, she concluded.                                                                                                 
2:12:56 PM                                                                                                                    
PAMELA   MILLER,  biologist   and   Executive  Director,   Alaska                                                               
Community  Action on  Toxics  (ACAT), said  ACAT  is a  statewide                                                               
environmental health  research organization. She said  it's known                                                               
that  PBDEs are  toxic and  bioaccumulative endocrine  disrupting                                                               
chemicals  used as  flame retardants  in  consumer products  like                                                               
mattresses,  upholstery,  building   products,  and  electronics.                                                               
Because they  aren't chemically bound  to the products,  they can                                                               
be  released into  the indoor  and outdoor  environment. Exposure                                                               
can   occur  through   dietary   ingestion   and  inhalation   of                                                               
contaminated dust.                                                                                                              
MS. MILLER  mentioned the research  from the  Columbia University                                                               
School of  Public Health  that Mr. Hall  cited and  confirmed the                                                               
findings  about  reduced  IQ  scores.  One  researcher  said  the                                                               
observed reduction  in IQ scores  is in  the range seen  with low                                                               
level lead exposures and noted that  this is a concern because IQ                                                               
is a predictor of future  educational performance and. Ms. Miller                                                               
said  this   research  underscores  the  need   for  preventative                                                               
policies to  reduce toxic  exposures occurring  in utero.  And it                                                               
augments  the scientific  evidence  that links  exposures to  low                                                               
levels   of    PBDEs   in   the   environment    with   harm   to                                                               
neurodevelopment,  reproduction,  thyroid  function,  and  immune                                                               
system suppression.                                                                                                             
MS. MILLER  noted that an independent  and in depth study  by the                                                               
University of Massachusetts found  that safer alternatives are on                                                               
the market  and in  widespread use. She  opined that  even though                                                               
deca  is being  phased  out,  Alaska should  act  now to  protect                                                               
children,  fire fighters,  and others  against these  persistent,                                                               
toxic,  and  unnecessary  chemicals.   The  EPA  entered  into  a                                                               
voluntary phase  out agreement  with these  manufacturers because                                                               
they recognize  the serious harm  to health that  these chemicals                                                               
present to the public.                                                                                                          
MS. MILLER  said she realizes  that deca is less  persistent than                                                               
some other  formulations of PDBEs, but  the evidence demonstrates                                                               
that it  breaks down into  more persistent and  toxic bi-products                                                               
like penta  and octa. SB  295 is an important  protective measure                                                               
that  will  provide long  lasting  protection  for public  health                                                               
without  compromising fire  safety.  She urged  the committee  to                                                               
pass the bill.                                                                                                                  
2:18:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVIS closed public testimony and asked for a motion.                                                                     
SENATOR PASKVAN  commented that the  committee heard  from Gordon                                                               
Nelson today and he did not  state his affiliation even though it                                                               
was his obligation  to do so as a witness,  particularly since he                                                               
was  being paid  to  testify.  When a  witness  doesn't state  an                                                               
affiliation,  it   causes  me   to  mistrust   their  substantive                                                               
testimony, he said.                                                                                                             
SENATOR  DYSON  said  he should  maintain  that  perspective  and                                                               
continue to ask the question because  many who testify have a dog                                                               
in the  fight, but that  doesn't mean that their  testimony isn't                                                               
accurate. He  observed that a  lot of folks testified  today with                                                               
great passion, but  the testimony may not be as  well informed as                                                               
one would hope. Our quest  is always to get accurate information,                                                               
he concluded.                                                                                                                   
2:20:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  PASKVAN  moved to  report  SB  295 from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
being  no objection,  SB 295  moved  from the  Senate Health  and                                                               
Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                                             

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