Maine firefighters call on lawmakers to ban certain chemicals in … – WGME

AUGUSTA (WGME) — Firefighters across the nation are taking part in a Day of Action. It’s a movement that calls on lawmakers to better protect their health.

According to supporters of the bill, Maine firefighters are more prone to die of what they call “occupational cancer” from toxic chemicals than any other job related death.

LD 182 is bill that would ban the distribution of upholstered furniture that contains flame retardant chemicals.

If passed, furniture that has more than 0.1% percent of the flame retardant chemical or a mixture of it could not be sold or distributed.

Therese Flaherty’s husband, Tim, was a longtime Portland firefighter. She says he died from cancer that developed on the job.

“I remember times him coming home from a fire and the soot on his uniform that I would have to wash, the smell on it. You know all that stuff that accumulates over the years and this is what’s happened now,” Flaherty said.

“We know we are not going to eliminate all of our risks, but if we can make it a safer place or somewhere when they can have a decent retirement or a healthy retirement that’s what they deserve,” John Martell, president, Professional Firefighters of Maine, said.

Some lawmakers say currently many furniture factories and distribution centers in Maine do not use the toxins in their products. If passed, the bill may be hard to enforce.

“It’s going to be a hard thing to enforce because we are not running test on furniture as it’s imported from places like China and so we may not always know,” Senator Amy Volk (R), Scarborough, said.

State fire officials say while many believe flame retardants are helping firefighters prevent fires from spreading, tests have been done to prove they cause more harm than good.

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