Guest Statement: Maryland General Assembly Passes Family and Firefighter Protection Act

March 24, 2020

Maryland PIRG
Maryland becomes 2nd state to pass this reform 
for Immediate Release 
Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill on Wednesday to restrict the use of chemical flame retardants in furniture, children’s products and mattresses. The Family and Firefighter Protection Act passed with strong bipartisan support and was sponsored by Senator Guy Guzzone and Delegate Bonnie Cullison. It was championed by Marylandfirefighters and public health advocates, including the Professional Fire Fighters of Maryland, the Maryland Fireman's Association, Maryland PIRG and the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

When flame retardant chemicals escape from consumer products, mattresses and furniture, they bind with dust and accumulate in our bodies. They have been linked to harmful health effects, including endocrine and thyroid disruption, immunotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, cancer, as well as lowered IQ and developmental problems in children. 
These chemicals also cling to, and penetrate, firefighter protective gear, leading to increased rates of exposure. They release cancer-causing chemicals when they burn, endangering firefighter health. More than half of all career firefighter line-of-duty deaths are from job-related cancers.
Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr issued the following statement about the vote:
“We applaud the Maryland General Assembly for passing the Family and Firefighter Protection Act.

“Flame retardant chemicals have been added to consumer products and furniture for decades with a goal of providing fire safety. Unfortunately, they are not effective at reducing harm from fire and these toxins are putting our firefighters and families at risk from exposure. We are thrilled that Maryland has joined states and retailers that are restricting these chemicals in children’s products, furniture and mattresses.

Maryland has been a national leader in protecting families from some of the most toxic flame retardant chemicals. Maryland was the first state in the country to ban the toxic flame retardant DecaBDE in furniture. Since then, that chemical has been phased out nationwide. 

“There is no logical reason to continue to use flame retardant chemicals in children’s products, furniture or mattresses. There are safer non-toxic alternatives readily available. We now look forward to Governor Hogan doing the right thing and quickly signing this bill into law.