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Walmart bans chemicals believed harmful

Feb. 27, 2011 at 12:19 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. retailer Walmart said it is banning a controversial flame retardant used in consumer goods and has told manufacturers to provide safer products.

By prohibiting the use of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in the products it sells, including child car seats, cameras and sofas, Walmart is ahead of federal regulators in the move away from chemicals believed to endanger the environment and human health, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

"This really shows the market being able to move more decisively than the government," said Andy Igrejas, the campaign director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of public health and environmental organizations that advocates stricter federal chemical regulations.

Walmart recently notified its suppliers that it would start June 1 testing for PBDEs. The chemicals are linked to liver, thyroid and reproductive problems and has affected brain development in laboratory animals, the Post reported.

The company decided "several years ago" to ban PBDEs, but the reminder of the testing occurred just recently, said spokesman Lorenzo Lopez.

"Walmart has taken an important step toward protecting children and families from exposure to toxic chemicals. EPA has long had concerns about PBDEs," said Steve Owens, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention assistant administrator, adding the EPA's effort to limit any new use of the chemicals has stagnated in bureaucratic review.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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