National groups hail Maine’s new flame retardant limits

August 5th, 2017 by admin Leave a reply »

Firefighters and national chemical safety groups said they hope the nation follows Maine’s lead in passing a tough flame retardants law that the chemical industry lobbied against.

Lawmakers on Wednesday overrode Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a law supporters say will reduce firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens. Starting in 2019, Maine will prohibit the sale of new upholstered furniture made with materials that contain more than 1 percent of a flame-retardant chemical.

The restrictions don’t apply to furniture used in schools, jails and hospitals; that furniture instead goes through safety tests. The law uses about $165,000 from the state’s medical marijuana fund to hire an environmental specialist to monitor furniture sales.

A decade ago, Maine banned some flame retardants, but some firefighters say that law was insufficient to protect them from newer substitutes. Household furniture can meet safety standards without such chemicals, and smoke detectors and sprinklers save lives, said Portland Fire Capt. Mike Nixon.

He said fire gear companies are beginning to roll out suits that keep retardants from coming into contact with skin, but added, “There’s still nothing perfect out there.”

Nixon said he was diagnosed with late stage melanoma in 2012 when he was 41 and later received two surgeries and 11 months of chemotherapy. He can’t say exactly what led to his diagnosis, though a 2006 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine review of 32 studies suggested a possible increased likelihood of skin cancer for firefighters.

Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center and Prevent Harm,

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