Commission Votes 15-1 to Protect Health of Maine Children and Firefighters
AUGUSTA – The Maine Fire Protection Services Commission voted 15-1 today to support a ban on a toxic flame retardant linked to learning disabilities, cancer and developmental disorders.
“This is a win for the health of Maine children and firefighters,” said Matt Prindiville, Toxics Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Today’s vote shows we can have fire protection without poisons.”
The toxic flame retardant, known as “deca,” steadily migrates from the products to which it is added and builds up in the fat tissue of people and animals. It is a global contaminant that is added to many TV’s, mattresses, and upholstered furniture and is found in polar bears, breast milk and human blood. This has prompted legislative action in Europe and several states.
The commission, made up of representatives from the Maine Fire Chiefs Association, the professional firefighters union, volunteer firefighters, legislators and state agencies sent a strong message that phasing out deca will protect public health while not affecting fire safety.
“This shows that we can replace this toxic flame retardant without compromising fire safety,” said Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center.
“This chemical doesn’t belong in our homes, our wildlife or our children,” said Prindiville. “We now look to our legislators to follow the Fire Commission’s lead and phase out deca in favor of safer flame retardants.”
Flame retardants used in fabrics, foams and various other plastics have helped to stop fires and save lives. However, many of the brominated ones are toxic. They can permanently damage brain and reproductive systems and cause learning disabilities in children.
Fortunately, there are effective flame retardants already in widespread use that are far safer, and do not build up in people and animals and persist in the environment.
In 2004, the Legislature banned two of these dangerous brominated flame retardants, penta-BDE and octa-BDE. This session, legislators have an opportunity to protect Maine families by passing a bill, sponsored by Rep. Hannah Pingree, that phases out one of the most widely used of these poisonous compounds – “deca” – in electronics, and prohibits its use in new mattresses and home furniture.