Skip to main content

Health Group Seeks Dow Chemical’s Help in Toxic Flame Retardant Fight

Group Urges CEO to ‘Cut off Supply Chain for Chlorinated Tris in Toxic Couches’

WASHINGTON, DC – In a letter sent today to Andrew N. Liveris, the President, Chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company, the national Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition sought to enlist an unusual ally in the fight against toxic flame retardants in American homes and bodies.

The health-based group asked Mr. Liveris to publicly agree to stop selling raw materials into the supply chain that feeds the manufacture of a flame retardant chemical known as chlorinated tris or TDCPP, which is commonly added to polyurethane foam in couches, upholstered chairs, baby mattresses and nursing pillows, and in cars and transit vehicles.

Dow Chemical is the world’s largest producer of chlorine and epichlorohydrin, and also makes phosphorus oxychloride, three chemicals that are all necessary raw materials for the production of chlorinated tris, which is made by other companies.

Andy Igrejas, the National Campaign Director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, wrote in the letter to Dow’s Liveris: “from your powerful position at the base of the supply chain, you would send an important signal to the marketplace that fire safety goals should be met with safer alternatives to the use of TDCPP.”

Read the full letter to Dow Chemical Company.

“Dow Chemical prides itself on continuously improving in response to the latest science,” said Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of Environmental Health Strategy Center. “Here’s a chance for Dow to help end a toxic threat to the health of pregnant women and children.”

The health advocates’ letter follows new research on toxic flame retardants published last week in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology. The studies found chlorinated tris in 42% of all couches, the most frequently detected of any flame retardant chemical, and in 100% of household dust samples.

Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, commonly known as TDCPP or chlorinated tris, was removed from children’s pajamas in the late 1970’s after a related brominated tris was found to cause genetic mutations.  After the Penta PBDEs were banned by California and Europe in 2003, chemical manufacturers replaced their use in polyurethane foam with other toxic flame retardant chemicals, including chlorinated tris.

Last year, the State of California concluded that TDCPP causes cancer.  In 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cited several hazards of TDCPP including cancer, reproductive harm, developmental toxicity, systemic toxicity, and genotoxicty in humans, and ecotoxicity and environmental persistence, but EPA lacks adequate authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) to restrict use or production of the chemical.