A broad coalition of health, fire fighter, consumer and science groups - including the IAFF - has filed a petition asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ban four categories of consumer products - children's products, furniture, mattresses and the casings around electronics - if they contain any flame retardant in the chemical class known as organohalogens.
The IAFF has determined that there is a link between exposure to the fumes created when toxins burn and the disproportionately high levels of cancer among fire fighters. This entire class of chemicals has been associated with serious human health problems, including cancer.
"When toxic flame retardants burn - and they do burn - it creates a serious health risk for fire fighters," says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. "There is significant scientific data that show the association between fire fighting, exposure to deadly toxins and cancer. That's why the IAFF is committed to finding solutions to provide toxic-free fire safety."
No law or government regulation in the country compels the use of flame retardants in the products that are the subject of this petition. However, no law or regulation prohibits using chemicals from this toxic class in consumer products either. Over the last decade, as evidence mounts that one flame retardant chemical is dangerous, the chemical industry has responded by phasing it out and replacing it with a structurally similar chemical that eventually also turns out to be harmful.
The most effective solution is to ban products containing this entire class of chemicals. Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the CPSC has this authority.
Other petitioners include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the Learning Disabilities Association of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Worksafe, Dr. Philip J. Landrigan and the Green Science Policy Institute.