On Sunday, the Minnesota Senate approved a ban on the use of flame-retardant chemicals in certain products. The bipartisan legislation, authored by Senator Jeff Howe (R-Rockville), protects firefighters from the health risks associated with these toxic chemicals. The legislation passed with unanimous support and is expected to be signed into law by the Governor.
“Firefighters are some of our most selfless public
servants, and as it stands, we’re exposing them to unnecessary risk by sending them into a toxic chemical soup,” said Senator
Howe. ” After more than 30 years, we now know that the flame retardants
that are supposed to be saving lives are in fact making the situation much more
dangerous and contributes to them having cancer rates four times the average
“This is a tragedy, and worse when you watch it play out as I have as your friends and colleagues in the fire service contract cancer and die. Something must be done, and I am hopeful that this reform will help us save lives.”
Specifically, the bill prohibits manufacturing or selling furniture, fabric, and children’s products that contain flame retardant chemicals above a certain threshold. It also restricts the use of firefighting foam that contains PFAS, toxic agents that have contaminated several drinking water sources in Minnesota. The bill is supported by Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters, Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association, Minnesota State Volunteer Firefighters Association, and Clean Water Action Minnesota.
Flame retardants create unnecessary health risks for firefighters. When they burn, flame retardants produce cancer-causing chemicals that have been linked to developmental and reproductive issues. Firefighters can inhale the carcinogens or absorb them through their skin. Studies have shown that flame retardants are also ineffective at stopping fires.