Lobbyists Deny Flame Retardant Links to Fire Fighters and Cancer

June 26 • 2014

Fire fighters are being exposed to toxins and diagnosed with cancer in high numbers, but representatives of the chemical industry want you to think otherwise.

There is significant scientific evidence that demonstrates fire fighters have higher incidents of cancer compared to other occupational illnesses. These studies clearly indicate that such cancers are related to the job of fire-fighting. In fact, contrary to the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) distortion of the facts and science, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in its most recent report, reinforced this grim fact and supported the link between the exposures to toxins that fire fighters face with the increased risk of occupational cancers.

The IAFF is deeply concerned and is committed to protecting the health and safety of its members, and that includes the dangers of occupational disease.

The IAFF has partnered with the producers of the HBO documentary, “Toxic Hot Seat,” to help raise awareness about fire fighters’ exposure to carcinogens and the need to remove toxic flame retardants in consumer products including furniture, carpet, draperies, electronics and building materials. When toxic flame retardants are applied to upholstered furniture and many other products, fire fighters are exposed to dangerous toxins, increasing their risk of being diagnosed with cancer. When furniture burns it releases toxic chemicals. Fire fighters are exposed to these terrible substances during a fire incident and afterwards in overhaul. The toxins seep into a fire fighters’ system and are absorbed through their clothing and skin. Fire fighters take these toxins back to the fire house.

Chemical manufacturers are concerned about efforts to expose toxic flame retardants as contributing to the high rate of cancer in fire fighters. Lobbyists for the chemical companies are calling IAFF affiliate leaders to dispute the fact that their toxic flame retardants are harmful to fire fighters.

Listen to this phone message from a chemical company representative who called one of our leaders.

The lobbyists states that the link between fire fighters and cancer isn’t there. Read this email from the same ACC representative.

I represent the flame retardant manufacturers and would very much like to talk to you about the issues raised in the documentary “Toxic Hot Seat” that was shown in Boston.  I have attached a couple of articles that you may find informative – the first is a recent review of health data among fire fighters conducted by NIOSH; the second is a recent study of smoke toxicity of FR and non-FR foam sponsored by my organization.
The NIOSH study reports an increased incidence of certain cancers among fire fighters, but does not reach conclusions about cause and effect.  The smoke-toxicity study compares the components of smoke generated in fires with combinations of upholstery foam and barrier fabric.

I will give you a call in the next few days to discuss this information.  In the meantime feel free to call me, or send me an email, if you have any questions.  I also would be very interested in any opportunity to provide information, or answer questions, about flame retardants with the local membership.

Really? He wants fire fighters to listen to him after he denies the science and multiple studies linking higher rates of cancer in fire fighters and flame retardants or that there are toxic exposures from the chemicals produced by the companies that he represents?

The IAFF believes there is a need for modern fire safety that is toxic free and does not expose our members to the carcinogens that are contributing to the high rates of cancers in the fire service.