New Bill to Prohibit Sale of Products Containing Certain Flame Retardant Chemicals

J.M. Lesinski

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An array of standard household chemical cleaners.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

A new bill in New York state has been passed that will hopefully better protect firefighters against smoke inhalation. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed off on legislation S.4630-B/A.5418-B, a bill that prohibits the sale of mattresses, upholstered furniture, and certain electronics containing dangerous flame retardant chemicals linked to heightened risks of neurological damage, hormone disruption, and cancer, simultaneously adding a fine of up to $2,500 per day for repeat offenses.

"Far too many household items contain toxic chemicals that put our children and first responders at risk for serious illness," remarked Hochul of the legislation. "The furniture, mattresses, and electronics we buy should be safe and with this legislation signed, we can now ensure that when these items are sold in New York, they will be free of hazardous materials."

The newly passed bill also aims to better regulate chemical content in mattresses, furniture, and electronic enclosures, and to more clearly define terms used to refer to chemicals, like organophosphorus and halogenated, to better educate those handling them.

"This new law will help protect first responders from unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals,” New York State Assemblymember Steve Englebright said of the legislation. “Smoke inhalation is the number one cause of fire-related deaths. Unfortunately, flame retardants produce toxic chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide that can cause harm when inhaled. This is especially dangerous to firefighters. Additionally, the presence of flame retardants in mattresses, furniture and the casings of electronic equipment endanger our families as these chemicals leach out of products and become part of household dust. We breathe in these chemicals and our children ingest them playing on the floor. The chemicals cause adverse health effects including cancer, infertility, and damage to our immune systems. I wish to thank Governor Hochul for working closely with me to create this life saving new law."

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY
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