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Continued Controversy Over Flame Retardants In Millions Of Sofas, Chairs And Other Products

in the polyurethane foam of millions of upholstered sofas, overstuffed chairs and other have ignited a heated debate over safety, efficacy and fire-safety standards – and a search for alternative materials. That’s the topic of a cover story package in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of ACS, the world’s largest scientific society.

An overview of the package describes the controversy, fostered largely by a California chemist, who claims that flame retardants pose unacceptable toxic hazards and do not work as effectively as widely believed. It points out, however, that numerous fire-safety experts question those claims about flame retardants, which have saved thousands of lives.

A second article, by William G. Schulz, C&EN news editor, takes a closer look at the anti-flame retardant campaign and how it has outraged fire-safety scientists. In another article, C&EN Senior Correspondent describes how the is taking steps to make sure flame retardants are safe for people and the environment. An additional article by , C&EN senior editor, describes efforts to develop new polymeric materials that will put to rest uncertainty over .


American Chemical Society