California Professional Firefighters

CPF Backs Effort to Remove Cancer-Causing Toxins From Flame Retardants

The Brown Administration has released a new draft fire safety standard that could eventually lead to the removal of cancer-causing chemicals from flame retardants used in furniture.

The new draft standard – known as TB-117-2013 – updates an outdated standard that virtually mandated the use of flame retardant chemicals – known as PBDEs and TDCPP – on furniture in California. These chemicals, when released during a structure fire, dramatically increase the potential exposure of firefighters and fire victims to airborne carcinogens.

Additionally, the chemicals pose an ongoing risk to individuals as they leach into the atmosphere inside a structure. Health tests have indicated that the exposure levels in California children are among the highest in the world.

“Because structure fires burn so much hotter than ever before, flame retardants offer little if any protection,” said Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters. “But they do add to the toxic haze that often engulfs firefighters when they respond to a call. These inhalants are a major cause of death for fire victims and have been linked to higher cancer rates among firefighters.”

CPF is part of a broad coalition of consumer, business, labor and environmental groups seeking to remove cancer-causing toxins from furniture. Dozens of studies have documented the increased risk of job-related cancer faced by firefighters. In many cases, these increased risks are a result of exposures that occur during structure fires.

“In issuing this draft update to the furniture flammability standard, the governor deserves credit for acting to protect the safety of firefighters and those we serve,” concluded Paulson.

Click HERE to read the media release.

Click HERE to read the story in The Sacramento Bee.