On Thursday June 18th, the Oregon House passed SB 596 which would ban the chemical Deca-PBDE. The Bill is now on its way to the Governor's desk for signing. This bill was a top priority and a joint effort of Audubon and Willamette Riverkeeper.
Deca-PBDE is a chemical used in many materials as a flame retardant. The problem with PBDEs are that when materials break down they are released into the environment and have been linked to detrimental neurological effects, thyroid effects, hormone effects, developmental effects reproductive effects and possible carcinogenic effects. PBDEs are showing up in women's breast milk and in wildlife populations worldwide. Of particular concern was the increasing amounts of PBDE showing-up in species such as peregrine falcons and osprey which have only recently recovered from the impacts of another persistent environmental toxin, DDT.
Oregon joins several other states and several European countries in banning this chemical. There are safer and cost effective alternatives already available. Many companies have already begun phasing PBDEs out and there was no significant opposition to this bill from manufacturers. In fact the only real opposition was organized by the chemical industry itself. Supporters of the bill included a wide array of conservation organizations but also Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Ecology, Oregon Department of Public Health and most notably, the Oregon Firefighter's Council.
The Bill was championed in the House by Representative Haas and in the Senate by Senator Dingfelder. This is a big win for people and for wildlife!