They didn't need any extra incentive, but after a toxics group tested the couches in their offices, two Washington State legislators were more determined than ever to push for a ban of certain fire retardants.
State Senator Sharon Nelson, (D) Maury Island and State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, (D) Sequim are backing legislation that would ban the use of Chlorinated Tris, or TDCPP, a flame retardant used widely in furniture.
A sample from the foam cushions in Nelson's office tested positive for a pound of the retardant, which some studies link to cancer and other health issues.
Scientists with The Washington Toxics Coalition, which is spearheading the proposed ban, said children are especially at risk of ingesting dust containing Tris which detatches from the foam over time.
Nelson poured a pound of sugar on the floor of her office to demonstrate how much is in a typical couch.
Nelson and Van De Wege were part of hearing today which featured firefighters, parents and health officials who support the ban and chemistry and manufacturing groups which oppose it.
Opponents of the ban warn Tris is a very effective fire retardant needed to protect families from the highly flamable foam in most furniture. They have successfully fought other attempted bans and are fighting similar ones proposed in other states. They have compelling testimony and videotape demonstrations of treated vs. untreated couches on fire.
Supporters of the ban include firefighter groups, which cite other demonstrations showing little or no benefit to the Tris treated foam and they say the chemicals threaten the health of firefighters, who breathe smoke from fires burning in homes and businesses.
Rep. Van De Wege, who is a firefighter, said the risks to the health of families and first responders are too great and said there are documented, effective treatments that do not involve hazardous chemicals.