What the Experts Say

Public Health Officials:

“Reducing the use of toxic or untested flame retardant chemicals in consumer products can protect human and animal health and the global environment without compromising fire safety,” says a 2010 report by a group of 10 scientists, including Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

“The agenda of the chemical industry may be to protect profits over all else, but I am a nurse,” says Katie Huffling, RN, MS, CNM, from the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. “My priority is public health. And I can tell you children are not being protected from toxic chemicals. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have burgeoning rates of childhood cancer, learning disabilities, juvenile diabetes, and other health problems.”

Fire Scientists & Firefighters:

“We found that flame retardants have the undesirable effect of increasing the amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide released during combustion,” study co-author Anna Stec, a fire specialist at the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

Given the heat at which modern structure fires burn, the flame retardants offer little, if any, additional fire protection,” said Lou Paulson, President, California Professional Firefighters, “But they do contribute to the toxic haze that is released in a fire. These inhalants are the major causes of fire deaths and injuries, and they’ve been linked to higher cancer rates among firefighters. It’s critical that California move quickly to eliminate these chemicals from products.

“There’s no skin graft or physical repair for an upper airway burned out by toxic chemicals and contaminants,” said Koy Wilson, a Stockton firefighter representing the I.A.F.F. Burn Foundation. “Firefighters face a greater cancer risk because of the job that we do. These chemicals don’t offer much fire protection — they just add to the toxic exposure faced by firefighters and the citizens we serve.

As many as one out of every three firefighters may be diagnosed with cancer, and the evidence is overwhelming that they’re getting it on the job,” said San Gabriel Battalion Chief Bryan Frieders, speaking on behalf of the Firefighters Cancer Support Network. “I’m here to implore the Legislature and the governor to do what it takes to eliminate these toxins to protect not only the firefighters, but the citizens that we serve.

Furniture Manufacturers:

“Given the increasing body of evidence that indicates the persistence, bio-accumulation and potential health aspects of many fire retardants, we believe the risks associated with the use of these chemicals is greater than the hazard associated with the fire risk from furniture without fire retardants… Many furniture purchasers are looking for safer, more environmentally friendly products that do not contain chemicals of concern, including fire retardants.”The Business and Institutional Manufacturers Association (BIFMA)