This article originally appeared on the Conservation Voters of Idaho Blog on February 7, 2019

Flame retardants are supposed to slow ignition and prevent fires, but scientific evidence has linked exposure to these chemicals to an increasing numbers of health problems, including cancer, infertility, learning disabilities, neurological diseases, and more.

Worry over chemical flame retardants – particularly those in the organohalogen (OFRs) family – has been growing steadily over the years.

These flame retardants are routinely used in household products.

Often, the chemicals aren’t necessary to meet current standards. In fact, the use of flame retardants often provides limited fire safety benefit while increasing the danger to first responders.

The International Association of Firefighters has called for getting rid of the substances because of studies that show firefighters’ exposure while fighting fires contributes to increased cancer risk. That’s because OFRs become cancer causing carcinogens when they burn.

OFRs come with serious environmental concerns as well because they are released from household products into the soil, rivers, and oceans where they are persistent pollutants.

A broad coalition of health, consumer and science groups have joined calls from firefighter groups in asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ban four categories of consumer products—children’s products, furniture, mattresses and the casings around electronics—if they contain any OFRs.

There is work to be done to protect Idahoans from these dangerous chemicals and It’s imperative we begin putting policies in place to mitigate their harmful effects.

The first step is to protect those who protect us. We must safeguard the health of firefighters and first responders.