BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to ban the sale of many home products containing identified dangerous flame retardant chemicals. The ban will extend to children’s products and home furnishings, including carpeting and bedding. The bill requires manufacturers to notify retailers of their products which contain these chemicals before the ban goes into effect.
“This commonsense legislation offers safeguards to prevent exposure to hazardous chemicals,” said Sen. Moore. “Spreading awareness about the harmful effects of these products, and removing them from store shelves will help to ensure the safety of our children and consumers across the Commonwealth. Nonproliferation of these harmful toxins will also help reduce health-related complications from exposure, and benefit the environment.”
This bill has strong support from environmental groups, including Clean Water Action, as well as the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, which believes banning unnecessary flame retardants could decrease the health risks to firefighters from toxic fumes created when products start to burn and chemical compounds may become carcinogenic.
“The value of flame retardants is certainly doubtful and given the extremely high cancer rates of firefighters the more toxic chemicals we can get out of our environment the less exposure we will have,” said Ed Kelly, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. “This bill will ensure the health and safety not only of firefighters, but our children and all citizens of Massachusetts.”
Flame retardant chemicals already identified as hazardous are listed in the bill, and newly developed chemicals will be identified by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), with consultation from the state’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute and the Science Advisory Board. Chemical lists will be reviewed every three years to be updated, and the DEP will have up to 9 months after the identification to promulgate the new rules on the chemical.
“Flame retardants were used for decades in ways that were ineffective at stopping fires and resulted in all of our bodies being contaminated,” commented Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director of Clean Water Action and coordinator of the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow. “Today’s fire safety standards are more protective of public safety and can be achieved with or without the use of toxic flame retardants. This bill is not a choice between public safety and public health; rather it is a choice to achieve public safety in the way that provides the highest protection to our most vulnerable.”
DEP will promulgate regulations, and manufacturers and retailers who violate the provisions of the law will be subject to penalties. Manufacturers of products containing banned flame retardants must notify retailers a minimum of 90 days prior to effective date of legislation. There are specific exemptions for public safety, including motor vehicles, and the bill also exempts the sale of any previously owned or second hand product.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.