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May 7, 2012

Chicago Tribune Investigation Reveals

Questionable Chemical Industry Tactics to Promote

Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals

(San Francisco) Scientists, health professionals, environmentalists, and fire fighters responded with outrage to results of an investigation by the Chicago Tribune Sunday finding corporations making halogenated flame retardants spent tens of millions of dollars on public relations firms, lobbyists, and front groups to deceive the American people and legislators into believing their toxic chemicals are both necessary and safe.

“Studies on halogenated flame retardants find they can cause lowered IQ, learning disabilities, infertility, other reproductive problems, and endocrine system irregularities,” says Sharyle Patton from the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center.


“It’s hard to believe that we have pound levels of flame retardant chemicals similar to banned pesticides like DDT in our furniture that end up in our bodies, our pets, and wildlife and the only benefit is to the bottom line of the chemical producers,” said Arlene Blum, PhD, a chemist at UC Berkeley and Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. “This article should help stop new flammability standards, currently being promoted by the industry, that are designed to sell chemicals rather than to increase fire safety.”

Judy Levin, Pollution Prevention Policy Coordinator at the Center for Environmental Health comments, "It is time that the devious tactics used by the chemical industry are exposed to the public. It is clear that their drive for corporate profit trumps ethics, honesty, or concern for human health or the environment.”

"Scientific evidence on the health hazards of halogenated flame retardants is exhaustive, yet the chemical industry continues to deceive the California public and policymakers." says Martha Dina Arguello of Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA. “It’s time we stop exposing ourselves to unnecessary toxics that can impede children’s ability learn, can cause cancer, and are linked to many other health problems that low-income and communities of color face.”

"The lack of concern for firefighters who put their lives on the line is inexcusable, and lawmakers should stop listening to chemical industry representatives who have been misrepresenting the facts. Current and retired firefighters have elevated rates of cancers linked to flame retardants, including multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate, testicular cancer, malignant melanoma and brain cancer," says Tony Stefani, cancer survivor founder of the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation, and retired Captain of the San Francisco Fire Department.

“I hope California leaders will read this investigation and be moved to reverse the proliferation of these dangerous chemicals,” says Janette Robinson Flint of Black Women for Wellness. “Our community is overburdened with chemical exposure, our hair, personal and cleaning products, the environment, and now even the clothes our children wear and the furniture in our homes…enough is enough.”

An obsolete CA. regulation (Technical Bulletin 117) de facto forces companies to use toxic chemicals in their products. Both business owners and consumers lose with this industry influenced scenario," comments Richard Holober of Consumer Federation of California.

“A functioning federal regulatory program would have weeded out halogenated flame retardants long ago,” said Kathy Curtis, LPN, with Alliance for Toxic-Free Fire Safety. “Instead of investing in safer alternatives, the chemical industry has doubled down to prevent the federal Safe Chemicals Act from moving forward.

For more info: http://toxicfreefiresafety.net/CaliforniansForToxicFreeFireSafety.php

Available for Interviews

Martha Dina Arguello, Executive Director, marguello@psr-la.org, and Ana Mascareñas, Policy & Communications Coordinator, Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles (PSR-LA) 213 689-9170, amascarenas@psr-la.org. Martha and Ana can address state policy efforts to stop the halogenated flame retardants, and efforts by the chemical industry to mislead leaders from communities of color on the science and hazards of the chemicals.

Arlene Blum PhD, co-author of study, Executive Director and Founder, Green Science Policy Institute 510.644.3164, Arlene@GreenSciencePolicy.org.Dr. Blum, a chemist, has been studying and working on halogenated flame retardant chemicals sine the 1970's, when her research persuaded officials to remove chlorinated tris from children's pajamas. She can address global aspects of HFR contamination, as well as efforts in the U.S. and California.

Kathy Curtis, coordinator for the Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety, (518) 708-3922. clean.kathy@gmail.com. Kathy can explain why failure with federal chemical regulation has contributed to the halogenated flame retardant chemical problem, and how states are stepping up across the nation to restrict the chemicals.

Janette Robinson Flint, executive director for Black Women for Wellness in Los Angeles. Contact Jan through Nourbese Flint, 323 290-5955, nourbese@bwwla.org. Jan can address how communities of color are disproportionately impacted by chemical exposure, including halogenated flame retardant chemicals, and impacts on women's health.

Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of California, 916 498-9608 holober@consumercal.org. Richard can address the dilemma California business and consumers have trying to make and buy safer products without halogenated flame retardant chemicals.

Judy Levin, MSW. Pollution Prevention Co-Director, Center for Environmental Health. (510) 655-3900 x316, judy@cehca.org. Judy can address environmental health impacts on children anf CEH efforts to change the CA regulation TB 117.

Andrew McGuire, Policy Advisor, Green Science Policy Institute 415-821-8209. Andrew can address how the flame retardant corporations used the same tactics as the tobacco industry used for defending tobacco in attacking the science about the hazards of the chemicals.

Sharyle Patton. Director, Health and Environment Program and Biomonitoring Resource Center at Commonweal Institute. 415 868-0970 , spatton@igc.org. Sharyle can put reporters in touch with various individuals who have been biomonitored and have found toxic flame retardant chemicals in their bodies.


Californians for Toxic Free Fire Safety

Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety