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Joining forces with firefighters to Give Toxics the Boot!

Posted on Mar 27, 2014
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Firefighters risk their lives every day on the job, but flames aren’t the only danger they face.  They are especially vulnerable to toxic chemical exposure, one of the main causes of chronic diseases like cancer and reproductive disabilities.  You may be surprised to learn, for example, that the breast cancer rate in San Francisco female firefighters age 40-50 is six times the national average.

Here in Boston, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, and the Boston Firefighters Union are teaming up to host a powerful event on Thursday, March 27th, 2014 as part of the nation-wide Give Toxics the Boot campaign.

Toxic Hot Seat Film Screening and panel discussion

When: 7:00 - 9:30 PM

Where: Florian Hall, 55 Hallet Street, Dorchester, MA 02124

Give Toxics the Boot is a campaign organized by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the filmmakers of Toxic Hot Seat. Similar events will be held across the country on this day of action to demonstrate the need for toxics reform and protection of our firefighters, families, and homes.

The irony of it all is that a significant source of toxic exposure in firefighters is flame retardants – the very chemicals that are supposedly used as a “safety measure.”  When flame retardants burn, they release carcinogenic byproducts such as halogenated dioxins and furans, putting firefighters at a particular risk because of the high exposure levels in burning buildings. However, flame retardants are not only toxic when ablaze; these chemicals, present in many household items, can settle into the dust around your home and transfer into the human body via hand-to-mouth contact.  Not only are flame retardants dangerous to the health of firefighters, but they also pose a serious risk to you and your families. 

For over 40 years, flame retardants have been advertised as a protective fire measure and therefore have been pumped into sofa cushions, baby products, clothing fabric, and more.  But the question is raised: If we are aware of these concerning health statistics, then why are hazardous chemicals still being infused into products that are in our homes, offices, and schools?

Toxic Hot Seat, an HBO documentary released in November 2013, sheds light on the complicated, controversial answer to this very question.  The film, set on the backdrop of the award-winning Chicago Tribune investigative series titled “Playing with Fire”, dives into an intricate story involving the chemical industry’s role and following the activist movement led by firefighters, mothers, journalists, and environmental activists to eliminate the use of toxic flame retardants.  

Flame retardants are just one example of why there needs to be stronger state and federal legislation against the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products.  We invite you to join the effort to push for flame retardant elimination and stronger toxics regulation by joining us on March 27th.  Show your support for our firefighters and the campaign to extinguish the use of toxic flame retardants!