New York bans flame retardants in TV displays

New York has banned the sale of electronic displays containing certain flame retardants, following concerns about their impact on the environment and human health.

Flame retardants are a family of chemicals that are added to products to prevent fire. But some flame retardants can cause adverse health effects in humans and lead to environmental pollution.

The new law which went in to effect in the New Year will also regulate chemicals in upholstered furniture and mattresses. The class of flame retardant chemicals prohibited under the law include halogenated, organophosphorus and organonitrogen chemicals.

Anyone found selling electronic displays in New York State containing these chemicals will face a fine of up to $2,500 per day for repeated offenses. Other US states that have already passed legislation prohibiting the flame retardants include California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C.

Among the negative health effects associated with the retardants are compromised immune systems, infertility, cancer and harmful effects on fetal and child development.

Flame retardant chemicals are also extremely slow to biodegrade, meaning they can remain in the environment or a home for many years. According to the New York Governor’s Office they are also of limited effectiveness in preventing or suppressing fires. Other states that have banned the chemicals have not experienced more fires as a result, the office said.

"Far too many household items contain toxic chemicals that put our children and first responders at risk for serious illness," said New York State Governor Kathy Hochul. "The furniture, mattresses, and electronics we buy should be safe, and with this legislation signed, we can now ensure that when these items are sold in New York, they will be free of hazardous materials."