An Act to Protect Children, Families, and Firefighters from Harmful Flame Retardants

S1230/H3500: An Act to Protect Children, Families, and Firefighters from Harmful Flame Retardants
Lead Sponsors: Senator Cynthia Stone Creem and Representative Marjorie Decker

The tightly-knit Massachusetts firefighting community lost ten members who were killed by occupational illness in 2017. In Massachusetts, we are able to track occupational illnesses for firefighters because of a presumption law that enables them to access workers compensation for medical treatment related to occupational illness originating in the line of duty. This information along with research from NIOSH shows that firefighters experience increased risk of certain cancers – greater than the general public. While serving their communities, firefighters put themselves at great personal risk where they are regularly exposed to mixtures of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic chemicals. Synthetic substances have pervaded American building structures, furnishings in them, and consumer products. These new materials also change fire behavior and can generate hazardous and poorly understood combustion products. Skin absorption rates increase at high temperatures, while residues on gear can prolong exposures. Ironically, the chemicals marketed by the furniture industry as flame retardants are among the substances that can cause adverse health effects in firefighters and the public. This bill bans the sale of certain harmful flame retardant chemicals in children's products and residential furniture.  It is a practical, feasible step toward protecting the health and safety of those who protect us – the firefighters.

An Act to Protect Children and Firefighters was proposed by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow (of which MassCOSH is a proud member), Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, Boston Firefighters Local 718, and Clean Water Action.