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Sierra Daily

Jun 21, 2011

Flame Retardants That Don't Retard Flame

"Why can't I wear those flame-retardant nightgowns?" my six-year old asked the other night. "They're so pretty!" The answer, my child, is that your parents are more concerned about your little endocrine system than in whatever scant protection a flame-retardant nightgown might provide in case of a fire. And here comes a study to back us up! A peer-reviewed study being presented today at the 10th International Symposium on Fire Safety Science at the University of Maryland finds that the high levels of flame retardant chemicals in child furniture and other products neither prevented nor retarded fires.

 "The evaluation of the fire safety benefits . . .is simple," says lead author, Dr. Vyto Babruskas. "There are no benefits."

There are plenty of hazards, though, according to the authors: "reduced IQ in children, reduced fertility, endocrine and thyroid disruption, changes in male hormone levels, adverse birth outcomes, and impaired development."

The study hasn't been posted yet, but you can find more at the Green Science Policy Institute. Also, the "On the One Hand, On the Other Hand" department in the new Sierra treads similar ground with a look at the flame retardants added to polystyrene insulation: "[F]ire experts say the chemicals don't actually stop the insulation from burning." See bottom of page here.

--Paul Rauber 


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