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September 2015

Are Fire Policies Fair When They Mandate the Use of Chemical Flame Retardants Without Mandating Their Safety Testing?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida
  • 2Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(9):807-808. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1067

Fire and health policies in the United States appear to be unbalanced. On the one hand, US regulations require the inclusion of chemical flame retardants (CFRs) in many household and clothing items with the goal of saving families from death and injury due to fires. On the other hand, there is no accompanying requirement to establish the safety of the chemicals used to achieve this goal, despite a wealth of data suggesting toxicity.14 This public health paradox poses the greatest risk to children, who are more vulnerable to toxins than adults and are often exposed to CFRs during critical periods of development.2

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