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Governor Cuomo Must Act on Flawed Flame Retardant Legislation

Jennifer Garfinkel

WASHINGTON (June 11, 2021) – Yesterday the New York State legislature passed S.4630-B/A.5418-B, which if signed into law, would ban the use and prohibit the sale of electronic displays containing organohalogen flame retardants used in residential settings. This bill would restrict products in homes, including but not limited to couches, mattresses, televisions and computer monitors; remove a critical layer of fire safety; and could put residents at risk throughout New York State.

“ACC and the North American Flame Retardant Alliance (NAFRA) support the transparent regulation of flame retardants that addresses both fire protection and chemical safety. Fire safety is a critical public health issue in New York, and flame retardants are an important tool to help reduce fires, fire deaths, and property damage. In 2018 — the last year for which data is available — there were 44,620 residential fires in New York, which resulted in 831 civilian injuries, 93 civilian deaths, and nearly $80 million in property loss.1

“One of the most important benefits of flame retardants in product design is that they can help stop small ignition events from turning into larger fires. Product manufacturers use flame retardants to meet flammability standards as part of a comprehensive approach to safety. While the bill allows for flame retardants to continue to be used in electronic displays in commercial settings, it simultaneously restricts their use in residential settings.

“Beyond the flawed logic as to when these critical technologies can and cannot be used in electronics, the legislation leaves retailers, particularly small businesses, and consumers in a difficult position. There is no mechanism to help retailers determine which products can be sold and who can purchase the products. Consumers may avoid the confusion altogether by visiting a neighboring state to make their purchases.

“Safety is a top priority for our industry, and we believe consumers deserve to have confidence that the products they buy are safe for their intended use. We invest significant resources in product and environmental stewardship and share a common commitment to advancing the safe and secure management of consumer products. ACC and NAFRA urge Governor Cuomo to veto this legislation and have the legislature engage with all stakeholders to develop a bill that truly addresses fire safety and protects New York residents.”

[1] New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control, http://www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/fire-incident-reporting-system/fire-in-new-york/2018structure.pdf

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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