Citizens for Fire Safety
Sleazy corporate front groups are getting more devious all the time. An organization called Citizens for Fire Safety describes itself as “a coalition of fire professionals, educators, burn centers, doctors, fire departments and industry leaders, united to ensure that our country is protected by the highest standards of fire safety.”
According to Nicholas Kristof, Citizens for Fire Safety has exactly THREE members. And by sheer coincidence, these three members just happen to be the CEOs of the three main manufacturers of chemical flame retardants: Albemarle Corporation, ICL Industrial Products and Chemtura Corporation.
For years Citizens for Fire Safety has been lobbying frantically for laws that require most furniture to contain these fire retardants. Now what were those slogans again, something about “limited government,” “getting the government out of the private sector,” or something?
There are two things you should know about these flame retardant chemicals: They’re practically useless for preventing fires, and they’re linked to countless health problems. As Nicholas Kristoff says: “Chances are that if you’re sitting on a couch right now, it contains flame retardants. This will probably do no good if your house catches fire — although it may release toxic smoke.”
These flame retardant chemicals are linked to — among other things — diabetes, cancer, fetal impairment and reproductive problems.
Calling all Right-to-Lifers: Here’s your chance to do something useful.
Citizens for Fire Safety originally evolved from a tobacco lobby. Cigarette manufacturers were being pressured to develop a fire-safe cigarette. They figured it would be easier to lobby for “fire-safe” furniture instead. Tobacco lobbyists conned the National Association of State Fire Marshals into lobbying for flame retardants in furniture. As Kristof says, “The fire marshals seem to have been well intentioned, but utterly manipulated.”
From there sprang Citizens for Fire Safety, who hired Dr. David Heimbach —the former president of the American Burn Association — to testify in favor of flame retardant chemicals. Dr. Heimbach told heartbreaking stories of children who had burned to death because of furniture that didn’t contain flame retardants. According to subsequent investigations, Dr. Heimbach simply made up these stories.
One of the most common flame retardants, Deca BDE, has been banned in Europe but not in the U.S. And why would this hazardous chemical be legal in the United States? According to Senator Frank Lautenberg — who has tried unsuccessfully to pass the Safe Chemicals Act — it’s because “the money is jingling.”