The air we breathe holds hidden dangers we aren’t even aware of, like fire-retardant chemicals. When you think about it, air-quality includes just about all HVAC services and equipment; from comfort, to clean filtered, refreshing air.
But Fire-Retardants? Where do They Come From?
Back in the 1970’s, the tobacco industry was targeted by the government in an effort to reduce fires caused by smokers. Regulations were imposed to make cigarettes and cigars fire-safe, such as self-extinguishing cigarettes. To get around this, the industry coupled with makers of flame retardant chemicals in an effort to flip the responsibility to manufactures of furniture, clothing, and household items. See Article
The flame retardant industry convinced government agencies to allow chemicals to be manufactured into our furniture, clothing, fabric, and more in an effort to lower fire incidence.
The results? We have a household and a national stockpile of items containing harmful chemical substances.
Dr. Mercola writes: “PBDEs, (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) which are similar in chemical structure to the now-banned PCBs, are now widely added to furniture foam, plastics for TV cabinets, electronics, wire insulation, and back-coatings for draperies and upholstery, and plastics for personal computers and small appliances. As flame retardants, the chemicals help to slow ignition and rate of flame growth in the event of a fire, giving you more time to escape.
But since these toxins are not chemically bound to the plastics, foam, fabrics and other materials to which they’re added, they easily leach out into your home, and are also contaminating air, soil and waterways during their manufacture, use and degradation in landfills.
As a result, this “public-safety measure” has backfired, and now people, including children, are being exposed to high levels of these toxic chemicals in their everyday lives, and suffering serious health consequences as a result.”
More recently, chemical manufacturers have attempted to replace PBDEs with substitutes such as “chlorinated tris” TDCIPP, and a variety of organophosphorous compounds. Some fire retardants were marketed as proprietary chemical mixtures, such as Firemaster® 550.
There are big questions about the safety of these replacement chemicals. TDCIPP, is listed on California’s Proposition 65 roster as a known carcinogen. It is linked to changes in hormones, neurotoxicity and developmental toxicity.
Firemaster® 550 causes obesity and disrupts glucose homeostasis – the balance to maintain healthy blood glucose level – in laboratory animals.
The Chicago Tribune won a Pulitzer Prize for its article detailing the dangers of fire-retardant chemical toxins in furniture and the affect this has had on firefighter’s nationwide. The results have been numerous cases of cancer, respiratory ailments, even leading to death from exposure while fighting fires. See Article
Where do we Find These Fire-retardant Chemicals?
Children’s articles and furnishings, home and business carpets, textiles, polyurethane foam furnishings, electronics and plastics, and motor vehicles. Back before changes were made, it was even found in children’s pajamas and plush toys.
What do These Chemicals do to our Air Quality?
These chemicals outgas into your home on a regular basis. They settle into dust, foods, and into the very air you breathe.
Two of the worst harbors of flame-retardants are your mattress and sofa (or recliner, etc.). Think about the length of time you spend sitting or lying on these.
As of July 2007 it was required that mattresses be doused with enough highly toxic flame-retardants that they would not catch fire even if exposed to a blowtorch!
Dr. Mercola’s article goes on to say:
They have maybe a cup and a half or two cups of this material on the mattress. They sprinkle it over the top or they put it into some kind of a coating on the mattress. And this can make people very, very ill.”
What’s the Worst That can Happen?
These chemicals have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, impaired fetal brain development, decreased fertility and thyroid problems. They can accumulate in your body, animals, the air we breathe, dust, etc. It’s everywhere. It can cause lung and neurological problems in all ages.
How can you Avoid These Chemicals?
See if you have items from the above list that were manufactured prior to 2005. Get rid of them if possible.
Find organic and ‘green’ building materials, carpeting, baby items and upholstery. Read labels to see if they are ‘flame-retardant free”.
Keep your home and place of business as clear as possible of these toxins with the use of proper ventilation equipment, high-quality air-filters, air-purifiers, and air-exchangers.
Dusting is highly important. Don’t just move the dust around, use a good HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner.
What is Happening to Prevent These Problems From Fire-Retardant Materials?
In January 2014, California changed its flammability standard. It doesn’t completely ban the use of fire-retardant chemicals, but it does allow manufacturers to use alternate ways of fireproofing, such as using natural, fire-resistant liners like wool. About 15 other states are taking actions against flame retardants or other known hazardous chemicals, according to the Safer States coalition.
These are positive actions, but ultimately, strong federal regulatory standards need to be set.
“Thanks largely to an effective industry lobbying effort in California, toxic flame retardant chemicals were—and still are—poured into furniture foam throughout the country,” says Sarah Vogel, Health Program Director.
Abel Heating and Cooling Can Offer Suggestions!
We want to insure that our customers are as safe from these toxic fire-retardant chemicals as possible. Questions? We’d be happy to answer them, or come take a look at how you can improve the air-quality of your home or business.
Call us at 952-472-2665 or Contact Us