Fire Retardant Chemicals Up in Flames

Toxic Fire RetardantsWe're Surrounded by Unnecessary Toxic Flame Retardants

by Alicia Voorhies, RN

Ooohhh the shenanigans going on in the flame retardant industry have hit all new heights!

Have you heard of Citizens for Fire Safety?  Sounds great, but it's just another industry trade group pretending to be a non-profit citizens group working for fire safety.  They've even claimed that the International Association of Fire Fighters was a full-fledged member of their group, but the fire fighters say otherwise. In fact, Captain Tony Stefani recently testified that the protective equipment firefighters use can't shield them from the 100 or more chemicals swirling in the air in a fire and its aftermath and asked for support of the federal Safe Chemicals Act.

The truth is that this group is using their tobacco industry style tactics for only one purpose: to promote the use of their toxic, endocrine-disrupting, untested chemicals.  The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) says they even pay off a cadre of “experts” to testify against bills that would restrict the use of their chemicals on a regular basis.

Enough is enough!

We're constantly exposed to unnecessary toxic flame retardants at home, school and work in furniture, baby products and electronics.  And worst of all, there's a clear lack of proven fire safety benefits.  We need to educate ourselves to protect our families.

CEH's Top 6 Tips For Flame Retardant Safety

  • Avoid products that contain polyurethane foam and that have a label stating the product meets the California furniture flammability standard. Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117).   Flame retardants have been found in some products that do not have a TB 117 label so this is no guarantee.
  • Opt for products made of wool, cotton or down as these materials are unlikely to contain added flame retardants.  Polyester or polypropylene filled products can be a safer option too, just be sure to confirm that they do not use use halogenated flame retardants. Some safer baby product options include:
    • Baby Luxe Organic:  Polyester-filled and cotton-covered pads and mattresses
    • Baby Bjorn: Polyester-filled and cotton-covered baby carriers
    • Orbit Baby:   Strollers and car seats with Expanded Polypropylene foam that meets TB 117 without halogenated chemicals
    • Boppy:  Nursing pillows filled with polyester and no added flame retardant chemicals
  • Wash your hands frequently.  Be sure to wash your hands after touching dryer lint as the lint can contain concentrated amounts of chemicals that migrate out of the products.
  • Vacuum using a HEPA filter and use a wet mop to reduce dust that may contain toxic chemicals
  • Select electronic products that are free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (See CEH's Electronics Shopping Guide)
  • Carefully choose safe carpeting and draperies in your home as these can be treated with flame retardants as well as with other potentially toxic chemicals.

You can help stop the use of toxic flame retardants by telling the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that they need to enact their draft 2008 furniture flammability standard.

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