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New York Times columnist and new docudrama mislead public on importance of flame retardants, strong fire safety standards

New York Times reporter Nick Kristof today published a column on the new HBO docudrama “Toxic Hot Seat,” scheduled to air on November 25, 2013. Unfortunately, Kristof and the directors of the docudrama have recycled old and incomplete information that paints a misleading picture about current regulations and the importance of flame retardants to fire safety protection for American families.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and members of the North American Flame Retardant Alliance (NAFRA) take the safe use of flame retardants in consumer goods very seriously. Our companies have a decades-long track record of helping to improve safety for families in dangerous fire situations. We are committed to making information about our fire-prevention technologies available to the public, enhancing cooperation with regulators and working with other manufacturers and retailers to support the safe manufacture and use of everyday products.

Home fires are still a significant problem across the country. According to the National Fire Protection Association, it is estimated that U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 366,600 home structure fires per year during the five-year-period of 2007-2 011. These fires caused an estimated average of 2,570 civilian deaths, 13,210 civilian injuries, and $7.2 billion in direct property damage per year.

Unfortunately, Toxic Hot Seat ignores the data that show fire is a real threat to family safety and the research that shows flame retardants can help stop or slow the spread of fire and save lives.

The docudrama also paints an incomplete and distorted picture of current regulation. The fact is that more than a dozen federal laws govern the safe manufacture and use of flame retardants, and all new flame retardants must be rigorously evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency before manufacture.

Kristof’s assertion that industry is stalling national chemical management reform is simply not true. ACC and its companies have been strong supporters of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, a bill co-sponsored by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Sen. David Vitter and a bipartisan group of senators. This historic legislation will enhance public safety and promote innovation, economic growth and job creation by American manufacturers. (Read more about this effort: http://reformtsca.com/)

During the production of Toxic Hot Seat, the producers contacted NAFRA for comment as the film was being completed. We were told the film would be objective, but the website for the film made it clear that the angle of the story had already been determined. It is for this reason that NAFRA elected not to participate in the production of the movie.

We encourage the public to visit www.flameretardantfacts.com to learn more about the importance of our fire-prevention products.

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