Ever wonder if flame retardant chemicals really slow flames? Light a sofa cushion on fire and see what happens. On second thought, don't. Just trust us when we say it'll burn.
Believe it or not, studies show that these fire prevention chemicals, which don't actually prevent fires, are linked to cancer, low I.Q.'s, birth defects and other illness. The kicker: Most states require these chemicals to be sprayed on flammable objects as a safety measure, and you can thank tobacco companies for this.
Fine. Don't believe us. Just watch HBO tonight for the premiere of Toxic Hot Seat, a documentary that follows the efforts of journalist, parents and activists to expose the hazards of chemical flame retardants and remove them from clothing and furniture.
"Our study provides clear evidence that firefighters are exposed to high levels of cancer-causing chemicals including brominated flame retardants and their combustion by-products -- dioxins and furans -- that are formed during fires by the burning of flame-retarded foam furniture and building materials," said Susan Shaw, an environmental health scientist. "Firefighters have much higher levels of these chemicals in their blood than the general population -- what we have shown here points to the possible link between firefighting and cancer."
The documentary was conceived by the investigative works of Chicago Tribune reporters who first exposed the dangers and intricate conspiracy involved. Interviewed in the movie are several San Francisco firefighters who detail their experience with the high risk of cancer while battling blazes, in part, because of chemical flame retardants.
Retired San Francisco Fire Captain Tony Stefani was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer thought to be the result from breathing harmful chemicals. Stefani, now in remission, along with other firefighters shared their experiences in relation to the findings from the Tribune reporters.
"Firefighters contract cancer at alarming rates compared to the general public," said Darcy Brown, spokesperson for the firefighters union. She sadly noted that just today a SF firefighter died from cancer.
Check out the documentary tonight at 9 p.m.
Here's the trailer: