NEWS RELEASE: Vermont Senate votes unanimously to ban toxic flame retardant chemicals
March 29, 2013
Montpelier, VT – The Vermont Senate voted unanimously in support of legislation to ban toxic and ineffective flame retardant chemicals (S.81, vote 28-0-2). Chlorinated Tris, a chemical targeted in the bill, was banned from children’s pajamas in the 1970s because it causes cancer, but in the meantime has become commonly used in furniture and other children’s products.
“VPIRG commends the Senate for their decisive vote to protect our children and fire fighters from unnecessary toxic chemicals,” said Lauren Hierl, environmental health advocate at VPIRG. “Getting these hazardous flame retardant chemicals out of our couches and children’s products is a big win for public health, and we are excited to see this bill move on to the Vermont House of Representatives.”
Flame retardant chemicals, particularly chlorinated Tris, are very common in consumer products like couches, car seats, high chairs, and more. These chemicals migrate out of these products into air and dust in our homes and into our bodies. These chemicals are linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, reproductive harm, and other negative health impacts. Toddlers have particularly high levels of these chemicals of their bodies.
Further, studies show that these chemicals don’t work to slow the spread of fires, and actually make fires more dangerous for firefighters by releasing toxic gases when ignited.
Matt Vinci, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont, stated: “It’s important that we protect the health and safety of the public that we serve and fire fighters across Vermont by banning harmful and toxic flame retardants. We look forward to working with the Vermont House of Representatives to remove all toxic flame retardants from all products in Vermont.”
An award-winning investigative series by the Chicago Tribune published in May laid bare the troubling history of how these ineffective and toxic chemicals became so ubiquitous in consumer products. The investigation revealed tactics used by the chemical industry to promote these chemicals, including infiltration of fire fighter organizations, distortion of fire safety science, fake citizen front groups, and more.
“The chemical industry will likely use their usual tactics to weaken or derail this bill, but with a strong vote out of the Senate, and support from fire fighters, public health advocates, and parents, we’re optimistic the Vermont House will take up and pass this bill soon,” Hierl added.