BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



                                                                            



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                                    THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AB 127
          Author:   Skinner (D), et al.
          Amended:  9/3/13 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE BUSINESS, PROF. & ECON. DEVELOP. COMM.  :  6-1, 6/24/13
          AYES:  Lieu, Block, Corbett, Hernandez, Hill, Padilla
          NOES:  Yee
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Emmerson, Galgiani, Wyland

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  5-2, 8/30/13
          AYES:  De León, Hill, Lara, Padilla, Steinberg
          NOES:  Walters, Gaines

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  49-26, 5/30/13 - See last page for vote


           SUBJECT  :    Fire safety:  fire retardants:  building insulation

           SOURCE  :     United States Green Building Council California


           DIGEST  :    This bill requires the State Fire Marshal (SFM), in  
          consultation with the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair,  
          Home Furnishings, and Thermal Insulation (Bureau), to review  
          flammability standards for building insulation materials;  
          specifies that the SFM, by July 1, 2015, shall propose building  
          standards that maintain overall building safety; and also makes  
          legislative findings and declarations.

           ANALYSIS  :    

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          Existing law:

          1. Licenses and regulates insulation manufacturers who sell  
             insulation material in California under the Home Furnishings  
             and Thermal Insulation Act (Act) by the Bureau.

          2. Defines "insulation material" to mean any material or  
             combination of materials applied or installed within or  
             contiguous to a roof, wall, ceiling, or floor of a building  
             or structure, or contiguous to the surface of any appliance  
             or its intake or outtake mechanism, for the purpose of  
             reducing heat transfer and thus energy requirements for  
             heating and cooling or reducing adverse temperature  
             fluctuations of the building, room, appliance, or structure.   


          3. Provides for the following under the Act:

             A.    Authorizes the Bureau, with input from the California  
                Energy Commission, the SFM, manufacturers, distributors,  
                and licensed installers, to establish insulation  
                material standards governing the quality of all  
                insulation material sold or installed in the state,  
                including safety and thermal performance.  

             B.    Requires that any standards adopted relating to  
                insulation material be submitted to the California  
                Building Standards Commission (CBSC) for adoption into  
                state building standards.

             C.    Provides that insulation material may only be sold or  
                installed in the state which has been certified by the  
                manufacturer to have been tested in accordance with  
                standards adopted by the Bureau.  

          4. Authorizes the SFM to develop building standards relating to  
             fire and panic safety and submit those standards to the CBSC  
             for approval.  

          5. Establishes the processes related to the adoption, approval,  
             publication, and implementation of California's building  
             codes under the California Building Standards Law, and  
             administered by the CBSC.  These building codes serve as the  
             basis for the design and construction of buildings in  







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             California.  

          6. Provides that if no state agency has the authority or  
             expertise to propose green building standards applicable to a  
             particular occupancy, the CBSC shall adopt, approve, codify,  
             update, and publish green building standards for those  
             occupancies.

          This bill requires the SFM, in consultation with the Bureau, to  
          review flammability standards for building insulation materials,  
          including whether the flammability standards for some insulation  
          materials can only be met with the addition of chemical flame  
          retardants.  Requires the SFM, based on this review and if  
          deemed appropriate, to propose, by July 1, 2015, updated  
          insulation flammability standards for consideration by CBSC, to  
          be adopted at the sole discretion of CBSC, that:

          1. Maintain overall building fire safety; and 

          2. Ensure that there is adequate protection from fires that  
             travel between walls and into confined areas, including crawl  
             spaces and attics.  

          This bill makes legislative findings and declarations relating  
          to flammability standards.

           Background
           
           Chemical flame retardants  .  A significant number of  
          peer-reviewed studies have linked chemical flame retardants  
          (generally halogenated organic compounds with chlorine or  
          bromine bonded to carbon) to numerous public health problems,  
          including cancer, neurological and reproductive impairments,  
          infertility, reduced IQ, hormone and thyroid disruption, hearing  
          deficits, and learning disorders.   Scientific evidence has  
          documented that many halogenated fire retardants are persistent,  
          accumulate up the food chain, and are now found at increasing  
          levels in people, wildlife, and our food supply.  Developing  
          fetuses and young children are the most vulnerable.  Studies  
          show that significant exposure occurs as halogenated fire  
          retardants escape from polyurethane foam used in furniture and  
          other products and are present in household dust.  According to  
          the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the level of  
          polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) measured in humans in the  







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          U.S. and Canada are typically 10 times higher than in Europe,  
          and appear to be doubling every few years.  These chemicals are  
          known to accumulate in blood, fat, and breast milk.  

          On July 18, 2012, Governor Brown directed the Bureau to review  
          and revise the state's furniture flammability standards to  
          reduce the use of toxic flame retardants in home furnishings.   
          Governor Brown stated, "Toxic flame retardants are found in  
          everything from high chairs to couches and a growing body of  
          evidence suggests that these chemicals harm human health and the  
          environment.  We must find better ways to meet fire safety  
          standards by reducing or eliminating - wherever possible -  
          dangerous chemicals."   The Bureau is currently accepting  
          comments on the revised regulations.  

          While the updated requirements for furniture will reduce  
          exposure to chemical flame retardants, they are still widely  
          used in building insulation.  These chemicals are most common in  
          the various types of "foam" insulation (i.e., polystyrene,  
          polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane) that are commonly used in  
          green building projects.

           Fire safety  .  As with upholstered furniture, the use of barriers  
          has the potential to be as effective at reducing fire risk as  
          chemical flame retardants.  A recent paper, "Flame Retardants in  
          Building Insulation:  A Case for Re-Evaluating Building Codes,"  
          written by a number of fire safety experts and scientists, calls  
          for revisions to the building code and building insulation  
          standards.  According to the paper, updated standards could  
          improve fire safety through barriers such as wallboard and  
          decrease or eliminate the need for the large amounts of chemical  
          flame retardants currently used.  

          While chemical flame retardants may reduce fire risks, they pose  
          significant health risks to firefighters.  According to the San  
          Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation,  
          firefighters are exposed to a "chemical cocktail" every time  
          they enter a building fire.  After the fire is extinguished, the  
          emission of toxic gasses continues.  Firefighters rely on  
          "combustion gases indicators" (CGIs) to indicate when they are  
          "clear" to remove their breathing apparatuses.  However, CGIs  
          are only able to detect a small number of the types of toxic  
          gases that may be present after a fire.  Chemical flame  
          retardants create toxic emissions when they burn, including  







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          known carcinogens.  In 2009, the San Francisco Fire Department  
          participated in a peer-reviewed study, which found that the  
          blood levels of PBDEs in the 12 firefighters tested were over  
          30% higher than the general population in California, and 60%  
          higher than the general population in the United States.  

           Comments
           
          The author states, "Given the toxicity concerns surrounding  
          flame retardants, the code should be updated.  California is  
          currently acting to limit flame retardant use in furniture while  
          maintaining fire safety; now the same should be considered for  
          building insulation.  Should this bill pass, the code may be  
          updated to remove the flammability test requirement.  This will  
          allow flexibility for producers to provide insulation material  
          with or without flame retardants."

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

           Minor and absorbable cost from the Building Standards  
            Administration Special Revolving Fund (special) to the SFM for  
            the development of update insulation flammability standards.

           Minor and absorbable cost to the Bureau's Fund (special)  
            consult with the SFM.

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  9/4/13)

          United States Green Building Council California (source)
          Association of Regional Center Agencies
          Breast Cancer Action
          Breast Cancer Fund
          Breathe California
          California Professional Firefighters
          Californians for a Health and Green Economy
          Center for Environmental Health
          Cities of Albany and El Cerrito
          City of Oakland, Council President Pro Tempore Rebecca Kaplan
          Clean Water Action
          Coalition for Clean Air
          Commonweal







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          Consumer Federation of California
          Development Center for Appropriate Technology
          Environment California
          Episcopal Diocese of California, Commission on the Environment
          Fire Science and Technology, Inc.
          Green Science Policy Institute
          Hawley Peterson Snyder Architecture Interiors Planning
          International Longshoreman and Warehouse Workers Union, Local 6
          Lake/Flato Architects
          Natural Resources Defense Council
          Northern California Chapter of Architects/Designers/Planners for  
          Social 
              Responsibility
          Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles
          Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Bay Area  
          Chapter
          San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation
          San Francisco Water Power Sewer, Services of the San Francisco  
          Public Utilities 
              Commission 
          Siegel & Strain Architects
          Sierra Club California
          Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
          Trauma Foundation

           OPPOSITION  :    (Verified  9/9/13)

          5-Star Performance Insulation
          All Seasons Insulation, Inc.
          Arnett Enterprises
          Bayer Material Science, LLC
          Best Contracting Services
          California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors
          CIServices, Inc.
          Clayton Corporation
          Cool Roof Systems
          Henry Company
          Premium Spray Products
          Roofing Contractors Association of California
          SDI Insulation
          Spray Foam Coalition
          Western Pacific Roofing Corporation

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    In sponsoring this bill, the United  







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          States Green Building Council California (USGBC) states that the  
          Bureau has done a commendable job recently executing the  
          updating of Technical Bulletin 117 on furniture foam and  
          arriving at a healthier standard for upholstered furniture and  
          indoor air quality.  USGBC believes this bill will help  
          California also lead the way to efficient, green building  
          materials that are BOTH healthy for inhabitants, installers and  
          emergency responders AND part of a fire safe built environment.

          The Breast Cancer Action, Breast Cancer Fund, Center for  
          Environmental Health, City of Albany City Council, City of El  
          Cerrito, Consumer Federation of California, Development Center  
          for Appropriate Technology, Environment California, Hawley  
          Peterson Snyder, Episcopal diocese of California, the Commission  
          for the Environment, Lake/Flato Architects, Natural Resources  
          Defense Council, the Architects/Designers/ Planners for Social  
          Responsibility, Northern California Chapter, Physicians for  
          Social Responsibility - Los Angeles, Siegel & Strain Architects,  
          and Sierra Club California contend, "Plastic foam insulation is  
          used in buildings to achieve energy efficiency goals.  Flame  
          retardant chemicals are added to these materials in an attempt  
          to reduce fire risk.  Unfortunately, these same flame retardants  
          can escape from the insulation throughout its life cycle and end  
          up in our indoor and outdoor environments . . Finally, there are  
          no good ways to dispose of insulation with these flame  
          retardants without further polluting our environment. Together  
          these concerns are cause for action."

          The Association of Regional Center Agencies believes this bill  
          will help reduce the presence of various flame retardant  
          chemicals in home insulation, stating, "While in most  
          circumstances extant thermal barrier requirements provide enough  
          fire safety, these chemicals are still required in foam-plastic  
          insulation materials.  Those materials can and still do catch  
          fire, and when they do, they produce a variety of hazardous  
          combustion products."

          The Green Science Policy Institute states, "AB 127 recognizes  
          the potential adverse health effects of chemical flame  
          retardants used in most foam plastic building insulations and  
          calls for a code revision to reduce their use. Once implemented,  
          AB 127 can ensure the fire-safety of buildings and support  
          energy efficiency while reducing the harm from flame  
          retardants."







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          Rebecca D. Kaplan, Council President Pro Tempore, City of  
          Oakland, states that this bill makes building insulation safer  
          and less toxic without reducing fire safety.  "Reducing the use  
          of these toxic chemicals will enable us to avoid negative  
          impacts to public health and the environment."

          The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social  
          Responsibility and the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition write,  
          "Here in California, the ubiquitous presence of flame retardants  
          in our environments and in our bodies is well documented.  We  
          have higher levels of flame retardants in our bodies than  
          anywhere else in the United States, and much higher levels than  
          in Europe.  The potential for these chemicals to adversely  
          affect our health, and especially the health of our children, is  
          cause for concern.  Additionally, once the flame retardants do  
          catch fire, they are toxic to breathe in, which can cause harm  
          to emergency responders."

          The Trauma Foundation writes, "Given the toxicity concerns  
          surrounding flame retardants, it is time for the code to be  
          updated so that flame retardant chemicals are not required when  
          they add no fire safety benefit."

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    No letters on file.  
           

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  49-26, 5/30/13
          AYES:  Alejo, Ammiano, Atkins, Bloom, Blumenfield, Bocanegra,  
            Bonilla, Bonta, Bradford, Brown, Buchanan, Ian Calderon,  
            Campos, Chau, Chesbro, Cooley, Dickinson, Eggman, Fong,  
            Garcia, Gatto, Gomez, Gonzalez, Gordon, Hall, Roger Hernández,  
            Jones-Sawyer, Levine, Lowenthal, Medina, Mitchell, Mullin,  
            Muratsuchi, Nazarian, Pan, Perea, V. Manuel Pérez, Quirk,  
            Quirk-Silva, Rendon, Salas, Skinner, Stone, Ting, Weber,  
            Wieckowski, Williams, Yamada, John A. Pérez
          NOES:  Achadjian, Allen, Bigelow, Chávez, Conway, Dahle,  
            Donnelly, Fox, Beth Gaines, Gorell, Grove, Hagman, Harkey,  
            Jones, Linder, Logue, Maienschein, Mansoor, Melendez, Morrell,  
            Nestande, Olsen, Patterson, Wagner, Waldron, Wilk
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Daly, Frazier, Gray, Holden, Vacancy


          MW:d  9/9/13   Senate Floor Analyses 







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                           SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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