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Kaiser Decision to Stop Purchasing Furniture with Flame Retardants Based on Products No Longer on Market

WASHINGTON (June 17, 2014)-The North American Flame Retardant Alliance (NAFRA) , a group representing the leading manufacturers of flame retardant chemistries, today sent a  letter to Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson urging him to reverse Kaiser Permanente's decision to cease purchasing for its health care facilities furniture that contain flame retardants.

"Flame retardants are an important tool in the fire safety tool box. They represent an important layer of fire protection in hospitals, health care facilities, and medical offices," President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council  Cal Dooley said in the letter on behalf of NAFRA. "The use of flame retardants in upholstered furniture can help prevent fires from starting and/or slow the rate at which small fires become big fires, providing valuable time for persons to escape danger."

The letter comes as flame retardants have played a measurable role in reducing the prevalence of fires across the country and have helped protect vulnerable communities, including the sick and elderly.

Flame retardants "helped the health care industry achieve a low incidence of fire-related deaths and injuries," Dooley stated in the letter. "By prohibiting flame retardants in furniture at its facilities, Kaiser will increase its reliance on technologies designed to reduce the effects of a fire after it has started (e.g., sprinklers), rather than preventing fires from starting in the first place."

The NAFRA letter notes that the decision by Kaiser Permanente is based on the potential health effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)-a group of flame retardants that are no longer on the market. All flame retardants on the market today are subject to review by the Environmental Protection Agency and other global regulatory agencies for safety. 

For this reason, NAFRA urges Kaiser Permanente to "give further consideration to the recently announced policy for purchasing upholstered furniture."

Members  of NAFRA have requested a meeting with Kaiser Permanente to discuss the scientific evidence showing the role flame retardants play in saving lives.

» View the full text of the letter


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