Legislation to Protect Vermonters from Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals Becomes Law

VPIRG Environmental Health Advocate, Lauren Hierl, joined Governor Shumlin, legislators, and fire fighters to celebrate toxic flame retardant ban at the fire station in Burlington.

Read Lauren’s address made at the bill signing:

“I’m thrilled to join today’s celebration as Governor Shumlin signs into law the nation’s strongest bill to protect kids and fire fighters from toxic and unnecessary flame retardant chemicals.  I’d like to thank the Governor and legislators – including, among others, Senators John Campbell, Claire Ayer, Ginny Lyons, Kevin Mullin, Representatives Shap Smith, Willem Jewett, Ann Pugh and Jill Krowinski – for their leadership in enacting this important public health legislation.

I’d also like to thank the broad coalition of partners who came out in support of this legislation, including the Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont, Voices for Vermont’s Children, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Toxics Action Center, and others.

One key chemical targeted in the bill, chlorinated Tris, was pulled from children’s pajamas back in the 1970s when it was linked to cancer, and since then has also been shown to cause fertility problems, lowered IQ, and other negative health impacts.

Despite the known dangers of Tris exposure, manufacturers soon found new uses for it – in a wide range of children’s products. I found it in my own son’s nursing pillow, car seat, high chair and more. It’s also really common in couches and other furniture in our homes.

It seems incredible that a chemical that was deemed to be too dangerous to be in kids’ pajamas 35 years ago was, until today, OK for use in nursing pillows and other kids’ products

To make matters worse, these chemicals don’t even work as advertised to reduce the risk of fires, and they make the job of fighting fires more dangerous.

The law that Governor Shumlin just signed is important because it means that these harmful flame retardant chemicals won’t be used in our kids’ products or furniture in Vermont in the future.

This legislation builds on Vermont’s legacy of enacting laws to protect consumers from toxic chemicals, including recent bans on BPA, mercury, lead and phthalates in consumer products. This year’s ban on flame retardants received unanimous support in the legislature, and clearly shows that protecting the health of our fire fighters and our families is a non-partisan, commonsense issue.

Now it’s time to build on this success. With over 85,000 registered chemicals, we can’t keep tackling them one at a time. Next year, we’ll be calling for the legislature to take a proactive approach to regulating toxic chemicals so we can ensure that products in Vermont are safe before they reach our store shelves.

I thank you all again, and look forward to continuing this excellent work with you next year.”

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