Are Fire Retardants Endocrine Disruptors?

Over the weekend Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times opened a new front investigating endocrine disruptors. He referred to an investigative series on fire retardants by the Chicago Tribune. Plowing through this takes time, but the gist is that the pseudo-scientific machinations of the fire retardant industry are the equal of decades of machinations by the tobacco industry. The Trib says little about the Underwriters Labs tests for combustibility of modern treated furniture versus old untreated. Full results are not yet released, but results disclosed thus far suggest that newer treated materials are more combustible – and maybe much more – than older untreated ones.

Some retardants escape the furniture as dust particles inside buildings. If endocrine disruptors are loose in a building, what can we do about them? We have to filter particulates out of indoor air much more effectively than now. (See Scientific Cleaning at the U. of Texas.)

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