Flame Retardants: Poisoning Children to Keep Them Fire-Safe
It's bad when kids die in fires. Unfortunately, lots of them do. That's why, over the years, regulations have required flame retardants in more and more products meant for children, from mattresses to outerwear - especially in California, where fire-proofing for infants became something of an obsession.
Unfortunately, many fire retardants are also toxic. They're particularly bad for kids, since they're thought to be a culprit in neuro-developmental problems. So what's a parent - or other human being - to do?
Dr. Heather Stapleton of Duke University says replacement fire retardants under consideration aren't much better than the chemicals currently in wide use, and recently bought her son an organic mattress. Greenpeace's Casey Harrell commends home detox efforts, but says the only real solution is to ban the chemicals outright. Harrell says she tested 100 homes, and found toxins in all of them, in products from cookware to electronics to mattresses.
As to that little fire problem, test the smoke detector, and have an escape plan. Both these measures are credited with better fire-safety outcomes, and neither is likely to kill you another way.