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June 10, 2021

Earthjustice Applauds the New York State Legislature for the Passage of The Family and Fire Fighter Protection Act

The Act protects New York residents and fire fighters from exposure to highly toxic chemical flame retardants present in furniture and electronics that are not needed for fire safety

Contacts

Nydia Gutiérrez, Earthjustice, (202) 302-7531

New York, NY

The New York State Legislature has passed S4630B/A5418B, which will establish The Family and Fire Fighter Protection Act, enacting much needed protections for children and fire fighters from chemicals that are linked to multiple health problems including cancer and neurological and reproductive impairment. The legislation prohibits the sale of any new upholstered furniture or mattress containing any flame-retardant chemical. Additionally, the bill prohibits the sale of any electronic display containing any organohalogen flame-retardant chemical in its enclosure or stand, and requires annual reporting of any replacement flame retardants used in electronic displays so that the state can track whether other toxic chemicals are being used in place of those that are banned under this measure.

A large body of scientific evidence links chemical flame-retardant exposure to serious health harms, including reproductive toxicity, cancer, impaired neurological development, and disruption of the endocrine and immune systems.

The passage of this comprehensive bill will protect the health of New York residents — especially children — from exposure to toxic flame retardants used in a variety of household products.

The following is a statement from Eve Gartner, Managing Attorney for the Toxic Exposure and Health Program at Earthjustice:

“With the passage of The Family and Fire Fighter Protection Act, New York will be the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to ban organohalogen flame retardants in electronic displays, the most prevalent ongoing use of this very toxic and persistent chemical class. We applaud Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblymember Steve Englebright for serving as champions for New York’s children and fire fighters and thank leadership in the Assembly and Senate for prioritizing passage of this measure during the last days of session. We now urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill into law to safeguard our families and our first responders from toxic flame retardant chemicals that are not needed for fire safety.”

Earlier this year, Earthjustice and a diverse coalition advocating for stronger health protections from the toxic and persistent flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating a federal law that requires EPA to take all practicable measures to limit exposure to some of the most dangerous chemicals in commerce.

In 2015, Earthjustice and a coalition of children’s safety, fire fighter, medical, and civil rights groups petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to adopt federal rules banning organohalogen flame retardants in electronic displays, children’s products, furniture, and mattresses. The petition was granted in 2017, and although CPSC has not yet finalized rules, it issued a warning to manufacturers, retailers and consumers about the hazards of making, selling and buying products containing these chemicals, noting the “disproportionately negative health effect on vulnerable populations, including children.”

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.