how dangerous is your couch?
On September 1976, an email runner from Kathmandu arrived at Everest\'s base camp with a package
Arlene Bloom, a member of the American double-century Everest expedition.
The plan has nothing to do with climbing, and it has nothing to do with Bloom\'s status as the first American woman to try the world\'s highest peak.
It\'s proof of an article she worked.
Wrote an article for Science magazine about the chemicals that were widely used in children\'s pajamas at the time.
For a scientific paper, the subtitle is unusually blunt: \"The main flame retardant in children\'s pajamas is a mutagen and should not be used.
The article was published in the following January.
By April, the Consumer Product Safety Committee banned the inclusion of flame retardant substances in children\'s pajamas.
The manufacturer quickly turned to the related compound chloride III.
Bloom and her colleagues
The author, a biochemist named Bruce Ames, tested it and found that it is also a mutagen and therefore may cause cancer.
Then remove the chloride three from the pajamas.
Bloom continued his legendary career as a mountaineer, leaving biochemistry behind.
But, as she ventured around the world, Tris was quietly making a comeback on other products.
Blum discovered the fact six years ago when she decided to return to science at the age of 61.
To make her academic training work, she attended the California workshop on chemical policy.
There, she spoke with Bob Ludka, who happens to be executive director of the polyurethane foam Association.
He said he was there because he was worried that almost all of the upholstered furniture contained chemical flame retardant.
Chloride 3 is one of the most commonly used flame retardant materials.
Bloom says she feels like Rip Van Winkle who wakes up after 30year nap.
Since 1975, an obscure agency in California called the home decoration and Insulation Bureau has advertised that the foam inside the upholstered furniture can withstand the exposure of small flames, like a candle or lighter, it is not lit for 12 seconds.
Because the foam is highly flammable, only a large amount of chemical flame retardant can be added to meet the regulations of the bureau, Technical Bulletin 117
Usually 5-10% of the weight of the foam
At the manufacturing point.
The size of the state makes it impractical for furniture manufacturers to keep separate inventory for different markets, so about 80% of the home furniture sold in the United States and most of the upholstered office furniture comply with California regulations.
\"We live in bubbles --
\"It\'s full of the world and a lot of foam is full of these chemicals,\" Blum said . \".
The problem is that the flame retardant doesn\'t seem to stay in the foam.
High concentrations have been found in geographically diverse organisms such as salmon, Dragon Falcon, cat, whale, polar bear and Tasmanian devils.
Most disturbing, a recent study by Duke University researchers of American young children found that every child they tested had a flame retardant in their blood.
These chemicals are related to a variety of health issues, including anti-social behavior, impaired fertility, weight loss at birth, diabetes, decreased memory, no loss of testicles, decreased male hormone levels, and thyroid dysfunction.
Bloom decided that she would let the furniture Bureau change the rules so that flame retardant materials would no longer be used.
She studied science.
She was supported by the bubble industry.
She has done it once with her children\'s pajamas.
How hard is this?
\"I thought we would have a meeting,\" she said . \"
\"You know, the climbers in the Himalayas are very optimistic because their mortality rate is very high.
If you do such a thing, you must be optimistic to a slight madness.
Bloom does not know what she is doing, but she will not be intimidated even if she does.
Her life is full of things that are unlikely to be done.
When she first tried to join high-
For example, on a high-altitude expedition in late 1960, she was told that women could only travel far to their base camp --
\"Help with cooking.
An expedition captain said in a 1969 letter, explaining why he refused her to go on an expedition to Afghanistan: \"It seems to me that a woman and nine men are not only in the case of excretion, it looks unpleasant on the open ice, but in the relaxed male company, it is an important part of the adventure happiness.
Blum arranged her own adventure in response.
She planned it first.
In 1970, when she was 25 years old, the woman boarded the throne of Denali, and after more experienced leaders died of altitude sickness, she took over the position at the summit and had to be carried
She organized it once a year later.
She calls it \"endless winter\" to pay tribute to the surfer movie \"Endless Summer.
She led the first American in 1978. and first all-female —
The rise of Annapurna I, a 26,545-
Considered the most dangerous mountain in the world.
At that time, only eight of the 89 who tried reached the summit in Annapurna; 9 died trying.
Part of Blum\'s adventure comes from T-
The shirt that says \"a woman\'s position is on top\" is plagued by storms, avalanches, illnesses and the deaths of two women, but two American women and two Sherpas do arrive
Bloom continues to lead the first climb of India\'s Bhrigupanth, hiking through the Himalayas, carrying her little daughter, Annalise, through the Alps, and finally writing two best-selling books about her adventures.
Each of these holes starts with Blum coming up with an idea in her mind.
\"She\'s a bulldog,\" said Margi Rusmore, a member of the Annapurna expedition.
\"Don\'t put her on your ankle.
\"Bloom lives on the upper reaches of Mount Berkeley, not far from the hiking route as her satellite office.
Every morning she walks along a fire passage dictating electronic documents.
She has mail on her phone.
Every afternoon, she walks in Tilden Park for meetings or interviews, or simply talks to friends about the latest Chemical News.
If you are with Blum, you will soon learn a lesson: wearing comfortable shoes.
Her house was small and comfortable, filled with pillows, posters and cloth from himaraya.
Last spring, when we first sat down and chatted, she walked up and down the living room and gave me a short biography of the furniture, all of which contained no flame retardant material.
\"A lot of furniture used to have toxic mats, so I threw away all the mats and bought something else,\" she said . \".
The sofa is customized. made;
The chair is covered with polyester.
Cleaning took place on 2007, in Bloom 14-
Weight began to drop at midnight.
A veterinary diagnosis of thyroid dysfunction in cats, a disease not known until 1979, is now considered one of the most common endocrine diseases in cats.
Blum wants to know if there is a possible connection between the thyroid dysfunction of cats and penta, a flame retardant that withdrew from the market in 2004, so, her vet suggested sending a small bottle of midnight blood to a researcher in Illinois.
Sure enough, the Midnight Blood is 28 out of millions.
Blum believes that the flame retardant on her aging sofa may migrate to the dust in her home, so remove it.
Four years later, the penta content in her dust dropped from 95 per million to 3 per million.
Heather Stapleton, a chemist at Duke University, has hosted many of the best courses
As we all know, the study of flame retardant materials shows that the foam is full of air.
She said: \"So every time someone is sitting on it, all the air in the foam is drained out of the environment.
\"The study found that children often play on the floor and put toys in their mouths, and the flame retardant content in their blood may be three times as high as that of their parents.
Flame retardant can also be transmitted from mother to child through placenta and breast milk.
The effects of advertising exposure may be difficult to detect in individual children, but scientists can see them as they look at the entire population.
Researchers from the Children\'s Environmental Health Center of Columbia University measured a class of flame-retardant substances called PBDEs in the umbilical cord
Cord blood from 210 New York women then followed their child\'s neurodevelopment over time.
They found that those with the highest levels of flame retardant exposure before birth scored an average of 5 points lower on I. Q.
This effect is similar to the effect of early lead exposure when compared to children with lower exposure.
\"If you are a child at the low end of the I. Q.
Spectrum, five points can be in a special
Or be able to graduate from high school, \"said Julie comsterman, author of the study.
In use, there are many flame retardant, the composition of which is often a trade secret that is closely mastered.
Some old ones, such as PBDEs, have become the subject of thousands of studies and have since been removed from the market (
Although many of us still have furniture.
Newer products such as Chemtura\'s Firemaster 550 have just begun to be analyzed, although it is now one of the most commonly used flame retardant materials in furniture.
Logic will show that any new chemical used in consumer goods is significantly safer than the compounds it replaces, especially those that take off from the market for reasons related to human health.
But of the 84,000 industrial chemicals registered in the United States, only about 200 were assessed as human safety by the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is because, under the 1976 Federal administration of toxic substances, industrial chemicals are considered safe unless otherwise proven.
When evidence of a chemical endangering human health begins to increase, manufacturers tend to withdraw it from the market and replace it with what it affects --
Usually its compositionare unknown.
For example, the composition of the flame retardant Firemaster 550 is considered a proprietary trade secret.
At a recent meeting, Stapleton discussed a small, unpublished study in which she fed a low-dose Firemaster 550 to female rats.
Compared with unexposed offspring, exposed mother offspring gained more weight, showed more anxiety, advanced puberty, abnormal reproductive cycle
All signs of chemicals disrupting the endocrine system.
This small study, however, could hardly be the definitive evidence.
In a written reply to my question, Chemtura said that it conducted a rat study and submitted it to E. P. A.
\"Indicates that there is no significant adverse health impact at the exposure level, much higher than expected with the use of the product.
\"While the composition of this product is found in the home dust of Boston, the treated sewage of San Francisco and the air of Chicago, no one can determine that these compounds come from Firemaster 550.
\"There are other sources of these substances,\" Chemtura wrote . \".
One day last year, I pulled the zipper of the lid on the sofa cushion, cut off a small portion of the foam sample, and mailed it to Stapleton\'s lab for analysis.
A few months later, the result came out again.
My son has three chloride on the sofa where he does his homework.
The question is how to use this information.
The consumer goods safety board considers the third chloride as a possible human carcinogenic substance and says adding it to furniture would make the child\'s daily dose much higher than the one the agency considers acceptable.
Two companies selling flame retardant, I. C. L.
Industrial Products and Albemarle said I have nothing to worry about, citing a risk assessment from the EU in 2008 that concluded that the level of consumer exposure to this chemical is too lowDr.
David Clary, chief sustainability officer at Albemarle, said that the kind of test that Bruce Ames did for the first time to mark the third chloride as a mutagen could be used to condemn peanut butter and broccoli.
He said: \"According to Ames\'s test, almost everything can cause cancer at high doses.
But whether I believe Tris is safe or not, my options are limited.
There\'s no choice between my three choices.
The treated couch and another flameretardant-free one.
Between this sofa and no sofa.
Even if there is no sofa labeled TB 117 standard, flame retardant substances are found in their foam during testing.
Blum has no sofa for many years after dropping penta
But not many people are willing to do so.
The ad \"when it\'s baby pajamas, you can throw them away and buy cotton pajamas,\" Blum said . \".
\"But what can you do with your couch?
How do you replace it?
\"Once Bloom decided to take the flame retardant, she began to introduce herself to the main participants --
Scientists, furniture manufacturers, decision makers.
The fact that she does not have the funds and her credentials are 30 years old does not seem to bother her and does not seem to matter.
She has set up a non-profit organization, the Green Science Policy Institute, with board members including former president of Stanford University and former president of the American Chemical Society.
In short, she seems to know everyone who is interested in flame retardant.
Andrew McGuire, director of policy at the Blum Institute, said: \"She may say that her staff is very small or has very little budget, but if you put it in-
Well-meaning donations, I guess she has millions of dollars worth of talent working for her at all times.
\"One of them is the fire --
Security scientist Vytenis Babrauskas is considered to be an authority in the flammable aspects of furniture.
Former head of burning Babrauskas
The toxicology program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology operates at Fire Science and Technology, a consulting firm at Wash Issaquah.
Over the years, the chemical industry has cited his research to support the Technical Bulletin No. 117, especially the research he did at the standards institute in 1987. retardant-
The treated chairs and electronic equipment are lit, compared to the furniture without flame retardant. The oft-
The results cited in this study were that treated furniture increased the escape time by 15 times.
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After all, that\'s why TB 117 exists --
Prevent people from dying when the sofa is on fire.
\"The death toll from furniture fires fell from 1,400 in 1980 to 600 in 2004;
In response to my question, Chemtura wrote: \"The price reduction is 57%.
Three years ago, Bloom contacted Babrauskas and invited him to attend her keynote speech at the Seattle Science Conference.
After that, they went hiking.
By the end of the day, he had become her strongest ally in the fight against TB 117.
Babrauskas believes his findings are distorted.
He said he used a lot of flame retardant, much more than anyone used in furniture sold to consumers.
\"I didn\'t realize what would happen was that the industry would accept the data and try to apply it incorrectly to General flame retardant materials,\" he said . \".
In the view of Babrauskas, TB 117 is ineffective in preventing fires.
The problem, he argues, is that the standard is based on applying a small amount of flame on the bare foam
This is unlikely to happen in real life.
He said: \"If you take a lighter and put it on the chair,\" unless you live in a terrible pigsty and people take the furniture apart, there is no foam visible to the naked eye on the chair.
\"In real life, it has to ignite the fabric before the flame reaches the foam.
Once the fabric is on fire, it turns into a flame, easily drowning the flame
Suppression performance of foam after treatment.
In testing, TB 117 compatible chairs are as easy to catch fire as incompatible chairs
They are as hot as they are.
\"This is not speculation,\" he said . \"
\"There are two series of tests that prove what I\'m saying is correct.
Before meeting with Babrauskas in bloom, the traditional view was that the conflict around flame retardant was a conflict between two competing public interests --
The need to protect people from furniture fires and the need to protect them from toxic chemicals.
But the more Blum studies the safety benefits of flame retardant, the more elusive their benefits are.
But the market is still growing.
In 1983, 0. 526 billion pounds of fire prevention agents were sold in the United States.
According to the consulting firm Freedonia Group, global demand is expected to reach 2014.
Although sales of most chemicals are driven by consumer demand, sales of flame retardant are different.
They don\'t kill weeds, they don\'t whiten smiles, they don\'t wash clothes.
In fact, furniture makers complain that flame retardant makes the foam harder and more uncomfortable.
What caused the fire?
Flame retardant sales specifications-
Like California\'s tech Bulletin 117, Maryland and Nevada recently passed a law requiring the addition of flame retardant substances to the school\'s foambus seats.
And the whole industry usually complains too much.
In this case, regulation serves some business interests and is frustrating for others.
Speaking about his bubble maker, Bob Luedeka said the ads \"We sell comfort . \".
\"Comfort is also a state of mind, and this controversy does not help to improve the comfort image of our products.
Six years after Blum met Luedeka at the first meeting, flame retardant became the center of the national debate.
Senator Dick Durbin, in presiding over a hearing on chemicals on July, said: \"Several generations of Americans have been asked to endure the exposure of potentially toxic chemicals in furniture in the name of fire safety . \".
At the same hearing, James J.
Jones, administrator of E. s. P. A.
, Citing flame retardant as \"a clear example\" of all errors in the toxic substances Administration Act, which is the federal law governing the use of chemicals.
Several states, including New York, have proposed a ban on third. (
Most of them have not been successful so far. )
But there is no more painful or expensive flame retardant struggle than California. In 2007, full-
Newspapers across California are starting to advertise on a single page.
They showed a group of houses that were about to be swallowed up by flames.
\"Don\'t let Sacramento weaken fire safety,\" the ad said . \"
\"Some politicians in Sacramento have proposed a comprehensive ban on the use of flame retardant that will help prevent fires --
Protect our homes and families.
\"The ad is for the first of four failed bills proposed by State Senator Mark Renault between 2007 and 2011, which sought to remove flame retardant substances from furniture.
Although he has been in the state government since 2002, Renault says he is unprepared for the flame retardant fight.
\"I wrote a landmark bill first --of-their-
\"Good bill,\" he said.
\"But I \'ve never had a tough lobbying like this --
And very pretentious.
According to the survey of Environmental Health News, between 2007 and 2011, fire-fighting manufacturers
Flame retardant chemicals cost more than $23.
2 million Defense Technology Bulletin 117.
A large part of the money is used to support an organization called fire safety citizens, the organization\'s website calls itself \"fire professionals, educators, community activists, burn centers, fire department and industry leaders.
\"Over the past two years, the organization has struggled in more than a dozen states with a bill banning the use of flame retardant in children\'s products.
Last year, Renault introduced Bill 147 of the California Senate, which will direct the furniture Bureau to develop a fire.
Safety standards for furniture that do not require flame retardant, similarto-be-
Federal standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Board were adopted to test whether furniture caught fire when exposed to stuffy cigarettes. (
Focusing on the whole furniture rather than foam, manufacturers can use barriers and less non-chemical solutions
Flammable fabric. )
Supporters of the bill seem to be penniless.
Dozens of organizations representing health officials, firefighters, furniture manufacturers and environmental groups.
There are only three opposing;
All three were compensated by the public for fire safety.
One witness is David Heimbach, a burn doctor at the University of Washington, who tells a story about 7-week-
The baby girl he treated the year before.
The baby\'s mother put a candle in the crib, he said, and the candle fell down and lit a pillow.
\"She died after about three weeks of pain and suffering in the hospital,\" he told senators . \".
He asked them to do \"anything that prevents the child from being burned \".
But there seems to be no such baby, no such candle, no such pillow.
The reporter who worked for the Chicago Tribune published an article 4.
Partial investigation of flames
May\'s flame retardant industry could not find any records of infants that met the description of Heimbach.
Heimbach\'s lawyer, Deborah Drooz, said he changed the details of the story in order to protect the patient\'s identity. (
The Tribune reporter did find that a baby died in a fire caused by an overload of power outlets --
The situation has little to do with flame retardant. )
Eventually, eight of the nine committee members voted against the bill.
Since 2007, the eight companies have received a total of $105,500 from chemical companies.
At the beginning of April Bloom invited me and two of her friends to take a walk in Tilden Park: Donald Lucas, a burning researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Jenny Pimentel, a widow in a well
George pimentell, a famous chemist at the University of California, Berkeley
\"I \'ve just had the worst week of my life,\" Bloom said, as Pimentel asked about her situation.
\"It\'s not the worst, it\'s the hardest.
Our bill is dead.
\"The bill is Bill 2197 of Congress, the latest attempt by the California Legislature to overturn the 117 technology announcement.
Similar to what failed last year, the bill was submitted to the State Council in February.
But at the end of the march, Holly Mitchell, the bill\'s sponsor, abruptly withdrew on the grounds of other legislative responsibility.
Mitchell plans to re-introduce the bill in January, but Bloom fears that momentum will weaken.
At the same time, Blum learned that the international electrician Committee, which sets global standards for electronic products, is about to vote on a rule that requires the TV housing to resist the ignition of Xiao Ming\'s fire like a candle.
If it passes, flame retardant will be added to every new TV in the world.
Blum beat similar standards in 2008 with the help of environment and supply company Michael Kirschner
Now they have to do it again. and quickly.
Next month, 27 countries will vote on the standard.
This means launching an international tour.
Bloom is usually alive on the trail, but now she walks with her head down.
When we got to the top of the mountain, she said: \"We are here for the summit . \". “Yea.
She looked at the view of San Francisco Bay for a while and then seemed a little excited.
She announced that she had just realized that there was a glimmer of hope for the death of the legislation.
\"It gives us the freedom to work on candle standards, which may be more important because it is global,\" she said . \".
Then she came back from the mountain.
In the next few weeks, Bloom\'s natural enthusiasm has returned.
There seems to be another way to reform the Technical Bulletin 117 --
Directly through the home furniture Bureau rather than the legislature.
The bureau has a new head named Tonya Blood, who agreed on May 1 to sit down with Blum and three other environmental advocates.
The meeting lasted one afternoon.
Bloom was exhausted by the time it was all over, but full of hope.
I talk to her every few days after that, usually at night.
It\'s not uncommon for her to call me at 9 or 10 in the evening to update.
Once I asked her if she was tired of talking about flame retardant.
She shook her head without hesitation.
\"Climbers are known for their endurance,\" she told me . \".
\"I\'m a little obsessed.
\"The TV candle standard seems unlikely to be defeated at such a late match --
Even Kirschner told me he had no hope.
But Bloom was convinced that it could be done, and when they mobilized the opposition, she convened an international coalition through a daily conference call.
\"We have been there for a month,\" she told them . \".
\"We have to stop it.
\"May, Bloom e-the night of the end
I was mailed to say that 40% of the countries voted down the standard.
\"I\'m glad I cried,\" she wrote . \".
There are other good news about advertising.
On June, California Governor Jerry Brown instructed the home decoration Bureau to start revising TB 117 so that chemical flame retardant could no longer be mandatory.
A new draft regulation similar to the Consumer Product Safety board smolder standard was released on July and may come into effect at this time next year.
In the nearest Bureau.
Sponsored the workshop on the new standards, and I asked Tonya Blood if her meeting at May and Blum shaped the next thing.
\"She did reveal environmental and health issues with flame retardant,\" Blood said . \".
\"She provided her peers.
\"But the blood found what Blum learned five years ago: when it comes to flame retardant, science is just one of the forces that work.
\"It\'s not a standard to get consensus and kumbaya,\" she said with a wry smile . \".
The chemical industry made it clear at the seminar that it was against my representative, Greg Sims. C. L.
Industrial products known as \"fear\"
Those who will eliminate the use of flame retardant manufacturing and emotional manipulation \".
Two speakers from Chemtura were also there, along with a long-time advocate for the industry, one of whom played a video featuring burning furniture.
After making sure she was one of the last speakers, Bloom sat in the audience with her laptop and dynamically produced a PowerPoint presentation layered in the chart to counter every argument of the chemical industry.
When her name was called, she just
Finish the demo on the thumb driving to the front of the room, then start talking, no notes, smiles and conversations as if she was speaking to a group of old friends.
As she often does, she does it with her own five-angle slide-
The infusion sofa loaded onto the garbage truck.
Even if Blum managed to get these chemicals out of the couch, she had no plans to take a vacation to celebrate.
The flame retardant in furniture is just the tip of the iceberg, she said --
Hundreds of millions more are embedded in electronics and building insulation.
During the workshop break, she was already planning the next step.
\"There\'s a lot more to do,\" she said . \".
Dashka Slater is the author of six books for children and adults.
Her latest children\'s book, Dangerous forever, is published this month.
Edit: page MM22 of Sunday magazine published this article\'s Dean dessona version on September 9, 2012, titled: Is this the most dangerous thing in your home? .
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