Leading business organizations and consumer product safety advocates are warning that a proposed ban on flame retardants in New York State could increase fire-induced deaths, injury and property damage and further ravage an already struggling economy.
The ban, the subject of legislation (S.4630-A/ A.5418) expected to be voted on in Albany as soon as Monday, would prohibit the sale of a broad range of products for use in residential settings that contain some of the most commonly used fire retardants. The list includes computers, televisions, children’s toys, electronics used for infants, exercising equipment such as stationary bikes and treadmills, couches and mattresses.
In a letter to New York State legislators, the coalition – representing tens of thousands of businesses and jobs in New York – wrote that the ban would “adversely impact product safety for New Yorkers and would put manufacturers, retailers and small businesses in our state at a competitive disadvantage.”
Furthermore, the coalition warned that fires are a safety risk for our most vulnerable populations, pointing to research that shows that fire death rates are higher in states with larger percentages of people who are African American, poor and smokers; have less formal education; and live in rural areas.
Fire safety is also a critical issue for senior citizens. Older adults continue to experience a disproportionate share of fire deaths. Although adults aged 65 and over are only 16% of the U.S. population, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) data shows that individuals 65 and over make up 33% of fire deaths. According to U.S. Census Bureau projections, by 2060, the number of individuals ages 65 or older is expected to be 95 million — nearly double the amount in 2017. Of the 114 civilian home fire fatalities in New York in 2020, 43 were older adults.
According to American Chemistry Council, flame retardants provide an important layer of fire protection by helping to stop or delay the onset or spread of fires, providing additional life-saving time to escape a fire.
The coalition, still in formation, includes The American Chemistry Council, Association Home Appliance Manufacturers, The Business Council of New York State, Chemical Fabrics and Film Association, International Sleep Products Association, International Technology Industry Council (ITI), Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, National Federation of Independent Business/NY, Polyurethane Foam Association, Upstate United.