This past weekend the Connecticut General Assembly House of Representatives voted to support a ban on certain flame retardant chemicals in children’s products. Their vote to support HB 5299 made the statement that our State Representatives are listening and actually hearing that these chemicals, once touted as necessary to save lives are actually causing illness and death both in their inanimate state as well as when they are smoldering after being ignited.
Flame retardant chemicals were originally created to retard flames in various man-made materials because man-made materials ignite and burn more rapidly than natural materials, however flame retardants have been linked to such nervous system impairments as seizures, memory loss, and learning problems. Early research shows that they may disrupt hormone levels, are neurotoxic and are also being linked to such health issues as learning disabilities, the inability to conceive a child, cancer, and some types of senile dementia.
Exposure to burning flame retardant chemicals has also been linked to dramatic increases in cancer rates in firefighters as was found in a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of 30,000 firefighters from three large cities. Their health issues have been linked to their exposures to the noxious fumes created by the burning chemicals found in furniture, electronics, flooring, insulation, and other building materials. Once ignited, these chemicals release toxic fumes that are potentially carcinogenic and poisonous.
HB 5299 addresses five commonly used flame retardants which are a fraction of those that are used in commerce today. Still, it moves us in the right direction for improving the health of our children, ourselves and the brave firefighters who put their lives on the line to save us and our children.
It is our hope that our Connecticut State Senators agree with this direction and vote to pass HB 5299 before this year’s session ends on May 4.