HBO film about flame retardants debuts and Calif. adopts new flammability standards


Toxic Hot Seat, a documentary on the corporate scandal surrounding flame retardants, debuted on HBO last night. The film features our senior policy strategist, Nancy Buermeyer, in addition to our firefighter friends and allies from the San Francisco Fire Department.

The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof wrote a column about the film and a recently released report by the Center for Environmental Health, which found toxic flame retardants in 38 of 42 children's furniture products the organization tested. Kristof calls the story of flame retardants a story of greed, deceit and dizzying corporate scandal.

"This is a televised window into political intrigue and duplicity that makes 'House of Cards' or 'Breaking Bad' seem like a Sunday school picnic."

The film comes on the heels of a major public health victory last week when California threw out a 38-year-old rule called Technical Bulletin 117 that had forced furniture manufacturers to put toxic and ineffective flame retardants in furniture throughout the country and in Canada. 

One common group of flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDE's, are found in furniture, televisions, computers and toasters. They leach out into homes and the environment and bioaccumulate in us. Research indicates that PBDEs disrupt hormones, creating a risk factor for breast cancer. 

The Breast Cancer Fund has been advocating to protect the public from toxic flame retardants for many years, and we've worked with scientists, public officials and furniture manufacturers with that goal in mind. We will continue to work toward comprehensive federal chemicals policy reform that will ensure that chemicals like PBDEs, in addition to thousands of other untested chemicals in our environment, are tested for safety through real reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act.


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