Baker signs bill to protect children, families and firefighters from toxic flame retardants
BOSTON--On New Year’s Day, Governor Charlie Baker signed the Children and Firefighters Protection Act into law, reversing his stance on the bill from two years ago. Parents, advocates, firefighters and legislators applauded the move as a critical step for public health following a year of public health crisis.
“Thank you, Governor Baker, for protecting the health of Massachusetts children, families and firefighters!” said Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director for Clean Water Action. “If we learned one thing from 2020, it’s that good public health is the foundation of a strong society. The passage of this bill will contribute to the well being of our most vulnerable as well as all Massachusetts residents. This moment has been a long time in coming and we are grateful for the persistent leadership of bill sponsors Senator Cindy Creem and Representative Marjorie Decker, Speaker DeLeo, President Spilka and all the legislators, parents, firefighters, health professionals, scientists and advocates who worked together to create this victory for the people of Massachusetts.”
The Children and Firefighters Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton) and Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge) bans 11 toxic flame retardants in children’s products, mattresses, household furniture, carpeting and window coverings. It also gives the Department of Environmental Protection the authority to ban additional flame retardants that are hazardous to human health and the environment.
Representative Decker said “I want to thank all the advocates, especially from Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, Clean Water Action, MASSPIRG, MassCOSH, the AFL-CIO and the Silent Spring Institute for their incredible work. I’m thankful for firefighters every day for the risks they take for us — my heart is full of gratitude for the step we took today to protect you. A huge thank you as well to the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics for being a voice for children."
“It’s so gratifying to have legislation I introduced 8 years ago signed into law,” said Sen. Creem. “Working with my partner in the House, Rep. Decker, Clean Water Action and the firefighters, and having the strong support from so many residents and other organizations, we were finally able to add these important public health protections to our law.”
“This is a massive step forward in protecting our residents and first responders in Massachusetts from the dangers of these toxic chemicals,” said Rich MacKinnon, President of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts. “This was achieved as a result of years of perseverance, hard work, determination, and collaboration. In particular, a big thank you goes to Representative Marjorie Decker and Senator Cynthia Creem who were there every step of the way. They were both fearless advocates throughout this legislative process”
“The origin story of flame retardants comes from Big Tobacco, which promoted this toxic product to take attention away from cigarette fires in homes. These ‘retardants’ did not, in fact, inhibit fires, but they did spread polluting and unhealthy toxic chemicals. We congratulate Rep. Decker, Sen. Creem, the Legislature and Governor Baker for taking an important step toward a healthier Massachusetts,” said Janet Domenitz, Exec Director of MASSPIRG.
“People spend 90% of their time indoors,” said Meredith Elbaum, Built Environment Plus. “This is one step forward in ensuring healthy indoor environments for all. Massachusetts is truly paving the way towards a more sustainable future.”
The bill was first filed in 2013. This is the second time that this bill has been to the governor’s desk. A previous version was enacted by the legislature on January 1, 2019 - the last day of the 2017-2018 legislative session. The Governor declined to sign the bill, effectively vetoing it as the legislative session was over. This year, the signing of this new law makes Massachusetts the 14th state to regulate toxic flame retardants.
The Children and Firefighters Protection Act is supported by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coalition, the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, Built Environment+, the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts, the American Academy of Pediatrics Massachusetts Chapter and many others.