The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) applauds Governor Kathy Hochul for signing legislation that bans carcinogenic flame retardant chemicals in household items, furniture, and electronic enclosures.
FASNY has made this legislation part of its proactive agenda for the last eight years. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, passed both houses of the legislature earlier this year.
Flame retardants are in everyday items such as TVs, phones, and mattresses because it was believed that they slowed or prevented the start or growth of a fire. Despite their stated purpose, these flame retardants are not effective at preventing or slowing fires. Further, when burned, they emit extremely toxic smoke and fumes which endanger both firefighters and the people they are working to save as they inhale them. In infants and pregnant women – who ingest these chemicals through normal everyday dust – links have been found to serious health effects, from cancer and reproductive issues to developmental disabilities.
“Firefighters are regularly exposed to flame retardant toxins in the line of duty, resulting in far higher cancer rates than those in the general population,” said FASNY President John P. Farrell. “By signing this legislation, Governor Hochul is protecting both the States’ citizens and firefighters. We are pleased to see New York State take an important step forward in eliminating harmful and hazardous chemicals from the environment.”
“Nothing is more important than protecting the health of our children and firefighters from cancer-causing chemicals,” said Senator Todd Kaminsky, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “By banning these toxic substances from everyday items in our homes, such as furniture and mattresses, we will be taking a major step in keeping our communities safe. I was proud to lead the fight to put our families and first responders’ lives ahead of corporations’ profits — and that is precisely what this law will do.”
“This new law will help protect first responders from exposure to harmful chemicals. Flame retardants produce toxic chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide that, when inhaled, contributes to the number one cause of fire-related deaths which is smoke inhalation. This is especially dangerous for firefighters,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright. “Additionally, the presence of these dangerous chemicals in household furnishings endanger our families as the chemicals leach out of products into household dust causing chronic exposure when we breath and play with our children in our homes. These chemicals are known to cause adverse health effects including cancer, infertility, and damage to our immune systems. I wish to thank FASNY for working closely with me to create and support this life saving new law.”
“We applaud Governor Hochul, Senator Kaminsky, Assemblymember Englebright, and the State Legislature for supporting this important bill,” said Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, the Jim G. Hendrick, MD Professor of Pediatrics, and Professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Health. “This is an important step forward in not only improving our environment and safety standards but, more importantly, ensuring the well-being of our firefighters who work tirelessly to protect us.”
Under the Family and Firefighter Protection Act, the use of certain flame retardant chemicals in furniture and mattresses and the use of certain flame retardant chemicals in electronic casings is banned. Similar bans have been enacted in states such as California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island. The European Union has banned them from electronics.