Opinion: SB 27, Flame Retardants is a Bill of Concern and One that Should Not Pass the Alaska Legislature
Juneau, March 8, 2011
"SB 27 is a bill that is proposing the ban of a life-saving fire safety product, without
any conclusive scientific support,” said Dr. David Heimbach, Professor of Surgery,
University of Washington. “I have treated many Alaskan burn survivors at my burn
center in Washington, and I know too well that Alaska is a state that is already
short on its care for burn related injuries. The removal of this necessary product in
household items will put the citizens of Alaska at risk."
Citizens for Fire Safety, an advocacy group, aligned with consumer, environmental,
minority and industry organizations, respectfully would like to clear up some items from recent
inaccurate claims, specifically claims such as:
FICTION: “These toxins concentrate in humans and animals high in the food chain.
Fetuses and infants are at particular risk as accumulated toxins are transferred from
mother to child in utero and through breast milk.”
FACT: While many of the products that are used in fire safety are found in the
environment, the levels of these products are far below levels approved by the federal
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). No studies have ever shown any impact of
these products on development of any fetus or infant, and the evidence of these materials
in breast milk refers to legacy products that have not been in use for more than 10 years.
FICTION: “Twelve states have already banned these dangerous chemicals”
FACT: Companies have voluntarily taken these products off the market as new and more
effective and equally safe products have been developed. Only two states, Oregon and
Vermont, have banned these products and the legislation merely writes into law actions
taken voluntarily by companies.
FICTION: “It makes no sense to allow their use in Alaska when safe and effective
alternatives exist. Alaskan parents shouldn’t have to worry that their household dust is
FACT: At this time, there are no equally effective alternatives to these commonly used
products. Many of the alternatives have not received the same rigorous testing that
would prove that they could prevent the spread of fire. These alternatives are being
pushed by special interests that would like to reduce fire safety standards to sell more
FICTION: “Alaskan parents shouldn’t have to worry that their household dust is toxic”
FACT: There is no known risk from household dust other than allergies. What Alaskan
parents should be concerned about is developing an effective home safety plan in case of
fire, and should educate their families about safe fire use.
FICTION: “Toxins such as PBDEs are carried in the atmosphere for great distances and
concentrate in cold climates.”
FACT: There is no evidence that PBDEs are carried in the atmosphere, in fact most
PBDEs remain sealed in heavy plastics and in materials until they are disposed of.
The fact remains that since Alaska and 49 other states have enacted strict fire safety
regulations, fires in the home and other areas have decreased significantly.
Bickford Pacific Group
Lobbying, Strategic Grassroots & Government Affairs Consulting