It was around 2010 when we first reported on the toxic chemicals in U.S. and Canadian furniture--chemicals that have been linked to myriad of serious health outcomes, including cancer. By that point, there had already been significant efforts by some scientists and political leaders to ban the chemicals–or at the very least, to stop the practice by the furniture industry of putting them in the furniture. The chemicals at issue are bromated fire retardants (organohalogens). These fire retardant chemicals (also known as PBDEs) are released when humans and pets sit on furniture that contains them; they are toxic, volatile and travel widely into the air harming people, pets and the enviornment. In a national study conducted by the CDC of chemical levels in the body, the majority of human participants have tested positive for the presence of these fire retardants and they are suspected as a leading factor in the increase of hyperthyroidism in cats (kitty wasting disease). Just as important, firefighters who work to put out home fires are exposed to what is now a virtual chemical soup that include PBDEs/fire retardants, and have been found to suffer an unusually high amount of cancers.
These fire retardant chemicals have been aggressively pushed for decades by the three major chemical companies that produce them–companies, incidentally, with a 5-Billion dollar market value–as necessary for saving lives. But is that true? Is there scientific evidence in peer-reviewed journals that confirm these fire retardants in our sofas, beds and chairs really slow fires down enough to save lives? These chemicals present significant risks to human health and well-being so if they do not definitively slow or retard fires and save lives, then why are they in our furniture?
The must-see HBO documentary “Toxic Hot Seat” explores the convoluted history of the reasons behind toxic fire retardant chemicals being present inside our homes. Inspired by the Pulitzer Prize nominated investigative journalism series report, Playing with Fire (journalists Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne with the Chicago Tribune) the documentary exposes the socio-political antecedents and consequences (including a multi-million dollar “public fear campaign” launched by the chemical industries that produce the fire retardants) behind the reason you are probably sitting on a toxic chair right now as you read this.
TOXIC HOT SEAT Documentary
The HBO original documentary TOXIC HOT SEAT takes an in-depth look at a nexus of money, politics and power – and a courageous group of firefighters, mothers, journalists, scientists, politicians and activists as they fight to expose what they assert is a shadowy campaign of deception that has left a toxic legacy in America’s homes and bodies for nearly 40 years.
1 hr, 31 min. For more information, visit: Facebook: facebook.com/hbodocs; Twitter: @HBODocs #ToxicHotSeat