Organohalogen flame retardants are associated with serious human health problems, including cancer, reproductive issues and developmental impairments. They’re released from everyday household products into the air and dust; as a result, more than 97 percent of U.S. residents have measurable quantities of organohalogen flame retardants in their blood. Children and people of color typically have the highest “body burdens.”
During the public comment period, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was inundated by a flood of comments in favor of the ban, thanks to the support of a broad coalition of advocacy groups and concerned citizens.
Some of the comments came from firefighters and their families. Organohalogen flame retardants aren’t particularly effective at preventing real-world fires—and when they burn, they make smoke even more toxic. The International Association of Fire Fighters has found a link between exposure to the fumes from burning chemicals and the disproportionately high levels of cancer among firefighters. It is heartbreaking to think that these men and women are exposed to needless, insidious dangers on top of the many risks they willingly face to protect their communities.
Here are just a handful of the comments that were received:
My husband was a firefighter for nearly 25 years and recently died from a rare cancer. I connect the dots directly to what he was exposed to during his career. He comes from a long line of firefighters—his father and uncles, all firefighters, are still alive and lead active lives. All the “better living through chemistry” years killed my husband and many other people who trusted companies to not kill for profit. Clearly companies need citizens to define morality—do not allow the sale of toxic flame retardant materials in the U.S. -B. Stewart M., Chesapeake Beach, MD
As a firefighter, I understand the science and politics around chemical fire retardants. They have got to go! They don’t benefit us, and they directly put us at risk for an assortment of dangerous diseases. -Russell S., Raleigh, NC