Task Force to Review Health Risks and Identify Alternatives to Flame Retardant

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 10, 2008) - The Task Force on Flame Retardant Safety will hold its first meeting on Thursday, September 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Century House, 997 New Loudon Road, in Latham.

Established by state legislation, the task force is charged with reviewing the health risks of the chemical flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether, a member of a chemical class commonly known as PBDEs. This flame retardant is used today in electronics, furniture, textiles, and other consumer products to reduce the risk of fire. The task force will also seek to identify the availability of safer, effective alternatives to this chemical.

Studies have shown that decabromodiphenyl ether is present in food, dust and other substances in the environment and has been found in samples of human serum and breast milk. Some studies in laboratory animals report changes in neurobehavioral development when the animals are exposed to the chemical shortly after birth. Evaluation of the health risks for decabromodiphenyl ether at current levels of exposure is the subject of ongoing scientific research.

Members of the task force include:

  • Nancy K. Kim, Ph.D., Senior Executive of the State Health Department's Center for Environmental Health. She will serve as chair of the task force, representing State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M. D.
  • Pamela Hadad-Hurst, Commissioner's Policy Office, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
  • John Mueller, Office of Fire Prevention and Control, New York State Department of State.
  • Kathleen A. Curtis, Policy Director, Clean New York.
  • Raymond B. Dawson, Ph.D., Global Director for Product Advocacy, Albemarle Corp.
  • Kenneth Geiser, Ph.D., Professor, School of Health and Environment, University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
  • John P. Hassett, Ph.D., Professor, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
  • David Sanders, Ph.D., Director of Environmental Advocacy, Chemtura Corporation.
  • Suzanne M. Snedeker, Ph.D., Associate Director of Translational Research, Cornell University.
  • Dennis Sweeney, Health and Safety Training Coordinator, New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association.
  • Leonardo Trasande, M.D., Assistant Professor of Community and Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

The meeting is open to the public, and a 30-minute public comment period will be included on the meeting agenda for members of the public to address the Task Force. Individual public comments will be limited to five minutes or less, depending on the number wishing to comment. Written comments will be accepted.

Seating is limited. To register to attend, contact Sarah Brazzell at seb03@health.state.ny.us or (518) 402-7511.