L'Association pour la santé environnementale du Québec / Environmental Health Association of Québec

Flame Retardants

This is a call to participate in a public comment period ending on August 26, 2023, on Flame Retardants

Below you will find a sample letter which you can send in via email or regular mail. Please act today.

Write now via email or via post to your Member of Parliament

Sample letter that you can send via mail to the address provided below or email at

Sample Letter

Flame Retardants Information Sheet

Tents, Flame Retardants, and MCS

Policy Position Paper: Flame Retardants


Flame retardants are commonly found in a wide range of products, including furniture, electronics, textiles, and building materials. While these chemicals can help prevent fires, they have been linked to serious health concerns when they leach into the environment and are absorbed by individuals.

This position paper aims to highlight the impact of flame retardants on public health in Canada and advocate for measures to protect consumers from their potential health risks.

While private businesses aim to maximize profits, it is crucial to prioritize the health and safety of Canadian consumers in the products they produce and distribute. Regulating and monitoring the presence of toxic substances is essential to minimize potential health risks and safeguard the well-being of individuals and communities.

ASEQ-EHAQ and EHAC-ASEC Position Statement:

We are deeply concerned about the potential health and environmental impacts associated with certain flame retardants used in consumer products and construction materials in Canada. Flame retardants serve a critical purpose in preventing and limiting the spread of fires, but we believe that it is essential to strike a balance between fire safety and safeguarding the well-being of Canadians. This position paper outlines our advocacy for the federal government to take decisive action to address the risks posed by harmful flame retardants and implement measures to protect public health and the environment.

We need stronger regulations that safeguard us from all forms of flame retardant exposure.

Why We Need to Ban Flame Retardants Immediately:

Carcinogenic Properties: Certain flame retardants, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), have been classified as probable human carcinogens, raising concerns about their impact on cancer rates in the population.

Endocrine Disruption: Flame retardants can interfere with the endocrine system, leading to hormonal imbalances and potential developmental issues, especially in children.

Respiratory Issues: Inhalation of flame retardant particles or dust can trigger respiratory problems and exacerbate conditions like asthma.

Neurological Effects: Studies have linked exposure to flame retardants with adverse effects on cognitive development and neurobehavioral outcomes, raising concerns about their impact on brain health.

Vulnerable Populations at Risk: Certain segments of the population are at greater risk of harm from flame retardants, including pregnant women, infants, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions. Pregnant women and developing fetuses can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals due to potential transplacental exposure.

People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), a medical condition, and disability, are especially vulnerable to exposure to these chemicals. Research needs to include ‘sensitizers’ or chemicals that can provoke sensitization leading to the disability of MCS.

Non-accessibility to Tents: People with MCS can experience homelessness (either short-term or long-term) and depend on tents to live in their backyards or other areas. Fire retardants and other chemicals used in tents are barriers to accessibility. During this time of immense distress, and often when experiencing low income due to unemployment, the individual is faced with the long and expensive activity of ‘cleaning’ or ‘off-gassing’ these chemicals from the tents, or spending exorbitant amounts to buy tents without these chemicals.

Recommendations and Calls to Action:

Due to the aforementioned risks of flame retardants, l’Association pour la santé environnementale du Québec / Environmental Health Association of Québec (ASEQ-EHAQ) and the Environmental Health Association of Canada / Association pour la santé environnementale du Canada (EHAC-ASEC) urges the Canadian government to take the following actions:

Immediate Ban on Harmful Flame Retardants: Canada should prioritize the banning of harmful flame retardants known to pose significant health risks, such as PBDEs, and encourage the use of safer alternatives.

Regulatory Oversight: Strengthen regulatory oversight to ensure manufacturers comply with safety standards and prioritize the use of flame retardant-free materials.

Comprehensive Product Labeling: Implement clear and transparent product labeling requirements to inform consumers about the presence of flame retardants in products and their potential health implications.

Public Awareness Campaigns: Launch public awareness campaigns to educate citizens about the risks associated with flame retardants and provide guidance on reducing exposure.

Research and Monitoring: Increase funding for research on the health effects of flame retardants and establish robust post-market surveillance to monitor and address emerging health concerns.

Evidence-Based Safety Assessment: Call for a thorough and evidence-based safety assessment of all flame retardant chemicals before they are allowed in Canadian markets in consumer products to ensure they do not pose significant health risks.

Investment and Education on Safe Healthy Least Toxic Alternatives: Promote the use of safer flame retardant alternatives that have been scientifically proven to be effective and do not pose health risks to consumers.

Public Awareness Campaigns: Advocate for public awareness campaigns to educate consumers about the potential health risks associated with flame retardants and how to reduce exposure.

Vulnerable Populations: Call for special protections for vulnerable populations, such as people with MCS, pregnant women, infants, and individuals with respiratory conditions, to prevent unnecessary exposure to flame retardants. Tents and other camping gear must be free of toxic chemicals to allow for healthy use, and equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Industry Accountability and Regulatory Oversight: We need stronger regulatory oversight and enforcement to ensure manufacturers comply with safety standards and avoid using hazardous flame retardant chemicals. We need to hold manufacturers accountable for the safety of their products and encourage responsible chemical management practices in the production process. Fines and investigations should be done for accountability.

Product Safety Testing: Advocate for mandatory product safety testing for flame retardant chemicals, with results made publicly available to consumers.

Research Funding: Advocate for increased research funding to study the health impacts of flame retardant chemicals, including ‘sensitizers’ in research, and explore safer alternatives.

International Collaboration: There is a need for international collaboration to harmonize flame retardant regulations and prevent the importation of products containing hazardous chemicals.

Health Professional Education: Promote educational programs for healthcare professionals to improve awareness of flame retardant-related health issues and effective management of exposure.

Flame retardants play a critical role in fire safety, but their potential adverse impact on public health cannot be ignored. The Canadian government, industry stakeholders, and consumer advocates must collaborate to implement evidence-based measures that protect citizens from harmful flame retardants while promoting fire safety through safer alternatives. By taking proactive steps, Canada can pave the way for a healthier and safer future for its citizens, reducing the risks associated with these chemicals and ensuring the well-being of current and future generations.


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