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On Thursday Governor Hogan allowed a new law to go into effect without his signature which will restrict the use of chemical flame retardants in furniture, children’s products and mattresses. The Family and Firefighter Protection Act passed the legislature with strong bipartisan support and was sponsored by Senator Guy Guzzone and Delegate Bonnie Cullison. It was championed by Maryland firefighters and public health advocates, including the Professional Fire Fighters of Maryland, the Maryland Fireman's Association, Maryland PIRG and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
When flame retardant chemicals escape from consumer products, mattresses and furniture, they bind with dust and accumulate in our bodies. They have been linked to harmful health effects, including endocrine and thyroid disruption, immunotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, cancer, as well as lowered IQ and developmental problems in children.
These chemicals also cling to, and penetrate, firefighter protective gear, leading to increased rates of exposure. They release cancer-causing chemicals when they burn, endangering firefighter health. More than half of all career firefighter line-of-duty deaths are from job-related cancers.
Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr issued the following statement about the vote:
“We applaud the Maryland General Assembly for passing the Family and Firefighter Protection Act and thank Governor Hogan for allowing the bill to become law.
“Flame retardant chemicals have been added to consumer products and furniture for decades with a goal of providing fire safety. Unfortunately, they are not effective at reducing harm from fire and these toxins are putting our firefighters and families at risk from exposure. We are thrilled that Maryland has joined states and retailers that are restricting these chemicals in children’s products, furniture and mattresses.
“Maryland has been a national leader in protecting families from some of the most toxic flame retardant chemicals. Maryland was the first state in the country to ban the toxic flame retardant DecaBDE in furniture. Since then, that chemical has been phased out nationwide.
“There is no logical reason to continue to use flame retardant chemicals in children’s products, furniture or mattresses. There are safer non-toxic alternatives readily available.
Maryland PIRG is a statewide, non-partisan, non-profit, citizen-funded public interest advocacy organization with grassroots members across the state. For forty years we’ve stood up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. This includes a long history of protecting Marylanders from exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products.
Your donation supports Maryland PIRG's work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.