Fire Fighters Applaud Bill Banning Hazardous Flame Retardant

Jan. 14, 2010
The International Association of Fire Fighters applauded Rep. Chellie Pingree (D- ME) for introducing a bill to ban decabromine, a flame retardant. Pingree’s bill coincided with an announcement by EPA on a scheduled withdrawal of decabromine from the domestic marketplace.

“Congresswoman Pingree, more than anyone, deserves credit for helping us eliminate decabromine. The IAFF has worked for years to end the use of the controversial flame retardant,” said IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger.

Schaitberger also credited private industry for its willingness to eliminate the toxic flame retardant. The IAFF began negotiating with the chemical industry earlier this year to ban the production, sale and use of decabromine. Those discussions helped launch both congressional and regulatory action that culminated with the introduction of Pingree’s bill, the EPA’s announcement and a promise by the chemical industry to withdraw the product voluntarily within 3 years. Decabromine has been used as a flame retardant in furniture, construction materials and electronics.

The IAFF will work hard to ensure that flame retardants that replace decabromine are safe.

“We will demand that the next generation of flame retardants be effective, environmentally friendly and safe for both citizens and fire fighters,” said Schaitberger.

IAFF affiliates in several states – including Maine, Washington, Vermont and Oregon – successfully have lobbied to pass state laws banning decabromine. Maine became the first state to ban decabromine 3 years ago, due largely to the leadership of Speaker of the House Hanna Pingree, Congresswowman Pingree’s daughter.

“We worked very hard to pass a bill taking decabromine off the market in our state,” Professional Fire Fighters of Maine President John Martell said. “Fire fighters in Maine are proud that Rep. Pingree is now leading the charge in Washington.”

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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