Friday, June 8, 2012

Flame Retardants and Cats

There is a lot on the internet about the toxic chemicals that are flame retardants. The chemistry of flame retardants is complicated. I won't therefore go into that in detail. Proving that flame retardants cause health problems is difficult. You have big business bearing down on people, using their wealth to lobby government (and worse?) to ensure that they can continue putting dubious chemicals into household items for limited benefit.

The insurance industry is probably in league with the big chemical manufacturers. This is probably a 'bent relationship' - a scam because insurance companies have a history of scamming. Insurers will insist that certain items have flame retardant before insuring. This certainly applies to furniture in apartments and houses that are let in the UK. Are they receiving a kick-back from the manufacturers? Probably, yes.

To sum things up. We have nasty chemicals put in household items that retard burning which could be replaced with less toxic chemicals or the benefits (retarded burning) are less than the downsides (poisoning people and domestic animals). In short the poisoning problems probably outweighs the safety issues.

Is he safe? Photo Todd F.

This brings me to cats. Cats, especially full-time indoor cats, are often on furniture that contains flame retardants in the foam. They are close to the foam. They spend hours next to flame retardant. Has anyone done any research on the impact of flame retardant on the domestic cat? I doubt it.

However, there is a large body of work on how these nasty chemicals affect people. How the chemical stays inside you for a long, long time. An example is brominated flame retardants. They are widespread environmental contaminants and they are persistent. They degrade slowly. They accumulate in animals and humans and they cause a range of health issues such as liver tumors and a disruption to the endocrine system  - production of hormones.

In North America and in Europe the demand for brominated flame retardants is reducing but rising in developing countries. When the big manufacturers get found out they move to less well developed countries and peddle they rubbish there because they know that lax government and corruption will let them carry on poisoning people for big bucks. This is happening with cigarette manufacturers exporting to Africa for instance.

There is a petition on that demands that the manufacturers become more transparent and let independent scientists assess the product.  Please sign it.

This is a classic battle between people with a conscience and big business which rarely has one. And don't forget the politicians who are often bought by big business.

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