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Maine Firefighters Call for Stronger Health Protections
03/26/2014 04:35 PM ET  

Public health advocates say that fire fighters, as a group, have rates of cancer twice as high as most Americans.

Fire fighters and public health advocates gathered at the Augusta Fire Station on Wednesday afternoon to call for stronger federal chemical bill they say will improve health and safety protections to fire fighters.

The event was organized by the non-profit Environmental Health Strategy Center, who say that fire fighters, as a group, have rates of cancer twice as high as most Americans. Chemical flame retardants are found in many common household products, furniture, building material and clothing.

"Flame retardant chemicals are adding to the toxic soup of fire gasses that fire fighters are immersing themselves into on a daily basis - and absorbing into their gear, their skin, and then into their bodies," said Peak's Island Fire Chief Mike Nixon, who leads the Fire Fighter Cancer Support Network. Nixon says he's seen many firefighters lose the battle against cancer.

In 2008, former Maine House Speaker Hannah Pingree sponsored successful legislation that banned the use of flame retardant chemicals in furniture and electronics in Maine.

This story was written by Caroline Losneck, with reporting help from Patty Wight.


 

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