BOSTON – Today, Senator Sal DiDomenico and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation to ban certain toxic chemical flame retardants from children's products, including toys and nap mats, upholstered furniture, window dressings, carpeting, and bedding that has been made or sold in the state. Senator DiDomenico is a co-sponsor of this legislation and has been a longtime supporter of its passage.
“For years, flame retardants have provided us with a false sense of security, all while posing a serious health threat to the people of the Commonwealth, especially our children and fire fighters. By reducing the amount of dangerous toxic chemicals in our homes, this bill will go a long way towards improving public health and protecting our first responders,” said Senator DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate.
The bill (S.2555), sponsored by Senator Cynthia S. Creem (D-Newton), establishes an initial list of eleven chemical flame retardants that would be subject to the ban. The list is based on scientific research which shows that exposure may lead to an increased risk of cancer, neurological issues, fertility problems and other health concerns. The bill requires that manufacturers notify retailers about those products which contain the chemicals before the ban goes into effect.
Foam products, including toys, are the most likely item to be treated with flame retardant chemicals. Over time, the chemicals are diffused throughout the home as dust, which can be inhaled or absorbed by children, pets and other family members. The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts support this legislation, and have raised special concern about the heightened health risks that result from chemical flame retardants when they are exposed to high heat and combustion.
“The health and safety of pet, families, and children in the early stages of development is of the utmost importance,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). "The measures outlined in this bill are crucial to protecting our homes from noxious chemicals.”
“This bill will reduce our exposure to dangerous man-made chemicals that are unnecessarily added to foam and other products,” said Senator Creem. “We need to protect our home environment from these health risks.”
Environmental groups are also supportive of the legislation. Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director of Clean Water Action, said "This bill will go a long way toward protecting children, firefighters and all who live in the Commonwealth from insidious and unnecessary toxic chemicals. There is no excuse for putting cancer causing chemicals in children's products when fire safety can be achieved using safer materials."
Chemical compounds used as flame retardants can change as chemists develop new formulas. The Senate bill calls for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to update the list of prohibited chemicals every three years. DEP would do so in consultation with the state's Toxics Use Reduction Institute and the Science Advisory Board, and would identify newly-developed chemicals and promulgate new rules within nine months of identification. The full prohibited chemical list would be updated every three years.
DiDomenico previously voted to pass this legislation in 2016. This is the second time the Senate has considered and passed the bill. It will now be sent to the House of Representatives for further action.