Bill to protect Maine firefighters from cancer hangs in the balance

Too many firefighters are getting cancer.

Sixty percent of firefighter job-related deaths are due to cancer, and firefighters develop over 10 types of cancer more often than the general population (including testicular, skin, brain and breast cancers, and leukemia.)

While on the job, firefighters are exposed to toxic smoke from “flame retardant” chemicals. Strong peer-reviewed scientific studies show that many “flame retardants” are linked to cancer. These chemicals in upholstered furniture are harmful to the health of firefighters and families. Safety experts say they’re not needed to slow down fires.

Maine fire fighters are working hard to address this issue. Union fire fighters are fighting to pass LD 182, which would protect the health of Maine firefighters and families by phasing out these chemicals from upholstered couches and chairs. Don’t just take my word for it. Above you can watch a moving, short video featuring Maine firefighters and widows of firefighters who died of cancer.

Safer alternatives are widely available, at no added cost to Maine businesses. Years of safety testing show that chemicals are not needed to slow down fires in couches and chairs. No state in the nation requires flame retardant chemicals in residential furniture.Other proven measures, like tighter-woven fabrics on furniture as well as smoke alarms and sprinklers, are more effective for fire safety.

LD 182 will be voted on this Thursday, July 20th, in the Maine House and Senate. You can take action by sending an email to your legislators asking them to do the right thing and vote yes on LD 182.

We need to show the Legislature that we stand with the firefighters who work so hard every day to protect our communities.

About author

Sarah Bigney
Sarah Bigney 1 posts

Sarah is an organizer for the Maine AFL-CIO, a federation of over 160 local unions representing approximately 42,000 workers of all kinds - papermakers, truck drivers, nurses, letter carriers, firefighters, shipbuilders, and many more. The AFL-CIO's mission is to improve the lives of working families by bringing economic justice to the workplace and social justice to Maine and the nation.

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