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Originally published Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 4:04 PM

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Editorial: Ban flame retardants that harm children

Strong, bipartisan legislation to protect Washington children from toxic flame retardants passed the House. The Senate needs to step up.

Seattle Times Editorial

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TWO Washington lawmakers, who are also firefighters, helped secure state House passage of legislation to protect children from toxic flame retardants, and harmful replacements.

The measure, ESHB 1294, passed in January with strong bipartisan support. Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Lynden, and Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, helped lead the way.

Now they are asking their colleagues in the state Senate to embrace the Toxic-Free Kids & Families Act with the same bipartisan zeal that carried the House by 72-25.

A vastly watered-down version passed the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Friday. The House measure keeps the topic in play for the session.

Overstreet and Van De Wege made compelling arguments in a Feb. 6 letter to the Senate. First, the chemicals are a known carcinogenic hazard, especially to small children crawling on floors and furniture.

Firefighters suffer their own health risks from the more hazardous smoke coming off products with the toxic chemicals. Safer products exist for both consumers and firefighters.

Overstreet and Van De Wege emphasize that pediatricians, fire science experts, nurses, firefighters, parents, fire chiefs, and community and environmental groups all support ESHB 1294.

A key part of the legislation empowers state agencies, including the departments of Ecology and Health, to track chemical hazards for children, and gives industry two years notice they would be banned.

End the cycle of legislative fights over each toxic hazard.

This is a time for lawmakers to act for Washington children and families, not the chemical industry. The House provided the Senate with a strong, informed example to follow.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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