Policy Spotlight: Rhode Island Bans Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals

The Rhode Island State Legislature voted earlier in September to enact a new law that bans organohalogens, a flame retardant chemical, in upholstered furniture and bedding products beginning July 1, 2019. The bill became law Wednesday, October 4 without signature from the Governor. Rhode Island now joins Maine in becoming the second state in the country to take such a serious step to protect human health from these toxic chemicals. The house version of the bill was sponsored by Reps. Morin, Handy, Regunberg, Casey, and Ajello. In August, Maine passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Kumiega which bans all flame retardants starting in 2019.

Flame retardants have traditionally been used with the goal of decreasing the spread of fires. However, recent research has highlighted the minimal impact of that these chemicals have on reducing fires. Rather, the chemicals can cause severe negative health impacts for millions of Americans, most notably young children and firefighters. Flame retardants are linked to cancer, learning disabilities and reproductive disorders.

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