Massachusetts Bill Banning Certain Flame Retardant Chemicals Dies Without Gov. Charlie Baker’s Signature

A Massachusetts bill banning the use of certain flame retardants in household and children’s products is dead, at least for now.

State lawmakers sent the bill to Gov. Charlie Baker’s office during the closing times of the 2017-18 legislative session. Because the session ended and a new one started, the bill could not be amended and was the victim of what is called a “pocket veto”.

While saying he supported the elimination of flame retardant chemicals, Baker called the bill a flaw and said if he had had the chance he would have sent the bill back with the suggested changes. . The bill can be reintroduced in the new State House session and restart the legislative process.

The bill as drafted would have made Massachusetts the only state in the United States to ban certain flame retardants in car seats and non-foam parts of adult mattresses, “products already subject to federal requirements in flammability, “according to Baker’s letter to lawmakers.

“In addition, this ban would come into effect in less than five months, reducing the delivery time for manufacturers by more than half of the full year provided for in the legislation as originally filed,” Baker said in the letter explaining why he didn’t. do not sign the legislation. “The resulting disruption to Massachusetts consumers would likely have a disproportionate impact on low-income families who are less able to afford expensive alternatives. “

Baker also noted that the bill called on the Department of Environmental Protection to ban other flame retardants “on the basis only of certain risks, without any consideration of compensatory benefits.”

The pocket veto drew a note of disappointment from professional firefighters in Massachusetts, saying Baker “missed an opportunity to start reducing the risk of occupational cancer for firefighters.”

“While the profession of firefighter will always be dangerous and carries risks, this proposal to ban toxic flame retardants could have been a step forward in reducing the risk of occupational cancer for our 12,000 members,” the group said. in a press release.

The science and research on the chemical’s health effects are “compelling,” the group continued. “As firefighters, we accept a risk inherent in our profession, but families should not be put at unnecessary risk when purchasing children’s products and household items. “

Baker’s letter came a day after the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics urged the governor to approve the bill, according to the State House News Service.

“In everyday use, flame retardant chemicals migrate from the products into the air and become part of household dust. Children are disproportionately exposed to this chemical dust due to their tendency to put objects in their mouths, including their own fingers after crawling on dusty floors or dust-covered objects they encounter during their trips. explorations, ”Dr. Elizabeth Goodman, president of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote in a letter to the governor.

The bill, which was the subject of intense lobbying on both sides, sought to ban 11 flame retardants. Twelve states have similar prohibitions.

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and the American Chemistry Council opposed the bill, the News Service reported.

After Baker’s office released the governor’s letter, the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund, an advocacy group, said in a Twitter post that it was “disappointed that the Baker government has prioritized to the concerns of chemical companies in relation to parents + firefighters “. The group is committed to “keep up the pressure.

Baker closed his letter to lawmakers saying the state can be a “leader” in phasing out flame retardant chemicals.

“A deliberative process involving all stakeholders and an implementation schedule that takes into account the realities of manufacturing and distribution practices are key elements of any legislation,” he wrote. “I look forward to working with the sponsors of the bill and stakeholders on a revised form of this legislation during this session. “

Documents from the State House News Service were used in this report.

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