90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, May 31, 2012

What The Tobacco Lobby Has To Do With Flame Retardant Products

Government scientists found that chairs containing flame retardants, like the one being tested above, burn just as fast as identical chairs without them. (Consumer Products Safety Commission)

Government scientists found that chairs containing flame retardants, like the one being tested above, burn just as fast as identical chairs without them. (Consumer Products Safety Commission)

The debate over fire retardant chemicals has flared up again, prompted by a new investigative series in the Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper investigated a decades-long campaign created jointly by the chemical and tobacco industries to introduce flame retardant chemicals in consumer products.

And the paper reported that flame retardants don’t necessarily save lives:

“We did not find flame retardants in foam to provide any significant protection,” said Dale Ray, a top official with the Consumer Product Safety Commission who oversaw the 2009 tests at a laboratory outside Washington.

Moreover, the amount of smoke from both chair fires was similar, Ray said, noting that most fire victims die of smoke inhalation, not the flames.

Many consumer groups are also investigating whether flame retardants are causing health problems, since the chemicals used in them have been linked to cancer, neurological disorders and developmental problems.

The Tribune also found that Big Tobacco lobbied for flame retardants to shift focus away from cigarettes as the cause of fire deaths.

Guest:


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Spotlight

We now have a digital bookshelf! Explore all our books coverage or browse by genre.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

January 26 3 Comments

Limitations Of Winter Freeze Inspire Maine Chef

The food at Vinland in downtown Portland is 100 percent locally sourced, even in the dead of winter.

January 26 Comment

Mayors Examine Community Policing

The U.S. Conference of Mayors has new recommendations on community policing, in the wake of Ferguson.

January 23 4 Comments

How ‘The Good War’ In Afghanistan Went Bad

Jack Fairweather's new book argues the war could turn out to be the defining tragedy of the 21st century.

January 23 4 Comments

How To Keep That Fitness Resolution

It's that time of year when the post-New Year's crowd at the gym starts to thin. We get advice on how to stick with it.