The November 2016 letter says first responders "are particularly concerned about the health effects posed by the continued use" of certain flame retardant chemicals in consumer products.

Vermont Congressmen Seeks EPA Review of Three Flame Retardant Classes

EPA must select the first 10 "Work Plan" chemicals for this risk assessment by the end of 2016, and it has planned to publish the list in mid-December.

A Vermont congressman, Democrat Peter Welch, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency this month asking it to review three chemical clusters that affect firefighters and emergency personnel. "Emergency response invariably involves a degree of risk, but we can help mitigate these inherent dangers by prioritizing chemicals that first responders disproportionately encounter," his letter said. "We commend EPA for its previous work assessing these chemical clusters and firmly believe they are strong candidates for further review."

He pointed out that EPA's review was authorized by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in June and requires the evaluation of potentially hazardous chemicals to determine whether they pose an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment. EPA must select the first 10 "Work Plan" chemicals for this risk assessment by the end of 2016, and it has planned to publish the list in mid-December.

The letter, signed by Welch and about two dozen colleagues, urges EPA to review chemicals contained in three classes of flame retardants – the Chlorinated Phosphate Esters cluster, the Cyclic Aliphatic Bromides cluster, and the Tetrabromobisphenol A cluster. "Americans are exposed to flame retardant chemicals in their daily lives," it said. "These chemicals are widely used in products such as household furniture, textiles, and electronic equipment, yet they can persist in the environment and potentially pose hazards to humans. First responders are often exposed to these fumes when responding to emergencies and are particularly concerned about the health effects posed by the continued use of these chemicals in consumer products."

Welch is a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the current Congress.

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