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Are Flame Retardants Dangerous – Foam Can Be Scary

by / Wednesday, 31 October 2012 / Published in Environmental Testing
Is Your Couch Dangerous?
Flame Retardants Dangerous

Take the flame retardant quiz.

Flame retardants creeping you out…

For years a small (but growing) group of concerned scientists, designers, and public health advocates have been warning about the dangers of flame retardants. It may seem counterintuitive that flame retardants – intended to reduce risk of harm from fire – could be harmful themselves. However, according to many of the top fire scientists there is no added fire safety benefit when adding these chemicals to most interior products, and even firefighter groups (with unique cancer cluster characteristics) are now concerned that flame retardants may do more harm than good. Tracking the money funding the massive rollout of flame retardants leads back to a small handful of chemical companies, and, in my opinion, therein lies the motive – Money selling chemicals, not fire safety to save lives.

A recent New York Times Magazine article – “How Dangerous is Your Couch” – is a nice primer on the subject and covers the adventurous life of Arlene Blum.

We’ll cover this in more detail in future posts, but for now I thought this would be a fitting Halloween Tale.

Reprint from Arlene Blum at Green Science Policy Institute:

Why is the couch made of skulls?

a. Skulls are the newest fashion

b. The couch foam contains toxic flame retardants

c. The retardants burn in seconds and give off toxic gases

What can we do to make the world a less scary place?

a. Be sure to vote and encourage your friends to vote too

b. Support California’s change in regulations to both prevent fires and eliminate toxics

c. Learn about Proposition 30 for our schools and environment

What has dangerously high levels of flame retardants?

a. California children and Illinois children

b. Cats and dogs

c. Killer whales and birds of prey

What can these chemicals cause?

a. Cancer

b. Lowered IQ

c. Testicular atrophy

Why do we add flame retardants to our furniture?

a. To alter our DNA

b. To reduce our fertility and the world’s population

c. To make a profit for three companies (Albermarle, Chemtura, ICL)

What can we do to protect our health?

a. Vacuum, mop, and wash our hands to reduce exposure

b. Throw out our furniture and sit on the floor.

c . Go to to learn more

Scary Fact:  All answers above are correct.

So now maybe you can answer the question…”are flame retardants dangerous?”

Please meet Arlene and visit the Green Science Policy Institute booth at GreenBuild in San Francisco this November.

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