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Firefighters, consumer advocates push to ban flame-retardant products

Officials said the chemicals have been linked to cancer; they’re hoping to find another non-toxic solution


WASHINGTON — Firefighters, scientists and health and consumer advocates are petitioning federal authorities to ban children’s products, furniture, mattresses and electronic casings if they contain a class of flame-retardants.

The Hill reported that groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Consumers Union are petitioning the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban consumer products containing the chemical in four categories: children’s products, furniture, mattresses and the casings around electronics.

The groups said the chemicals have been linked to cancer, lower sperm count, premature births, decreased IQ in children, impaired memory, learning deficits, hyperactivity, hormone disruption and lowered immunity, according to the report.

Firefighters are hoping to find another fire safety solution that’s non-toxic.

“When toxic flame retardants burn — and they do burn — it creates a serious health risk for firefighters,” Harold Schaitberger, the IAFF’s general president, said. “There is significant scientific data that shows the association between firefighting, exposure to deadly toxins and cancer.”

Lawmakers have been working to reform the nation’s toxic chemical laws, but the effort has repeatedly stalled.

“Children’s natural behaviors — playing on the floor, exploring different surfaces, putting things in their mouths — make them uniquely vulnerable to flame retardants and the harmful fumes and dust they emit,” Academy President Sandra Hassink said. “These products must be made safer if we are to make children’s environments safer and secure the foundations of health for every child.”