​A Victory a Long Time Coming!

January 14, 2021

MassCOSH is very pleased to announce that after years of advocacy, An Act to protect children, families, and firefighters from harmful flame retardants has been signed into law. This means manufacturers and retailers in Massachusetts will soon be banned from selling or importing items treated with toxic, cancer-causing chemicals. Cancer is the leading cause of death for firefighters, accounting for three out of five deaths in the line of duty. This new law is a welcome step toward protecting the health and safety of those who protect us. Firefighters already put themselves at great personal risk while serving their communities; by reducing their exposure to carcinogenic and toxic chemicals, this law will go a long way to minimizing the adverse health effects of their work.

Two years ago, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the flame-retardant bill at the end of the legislative session to great fanfare, but the Governor effectively vetoed it at the last minute. That did not stop MassCOSH and our allies in the Alliance for Healthy Tomorrow from continuing the fight because, in addition to putting our firefighters at risk, it is proven that these chemicals are not needed to meet modern flammability standards. Worse still, these dangerous chemicals do not stay in the products; they get out into the dust in our homes, the air that we breathe, and ultimately into our bodies.

Starting December 31, 2021, manufacturers in violation of the law and retailers selling select products treated with the banned chemicals will be subject to fines that can total $50,000. But the real winners will be our firefighters, whose jobs will become less hazardous, and the public, who will no longer be exposed to these dangerous chemicals.