Chicago Tribune investigative series on flame retardants interviews Susan Klosterhaus
‘Playing with Fire’, a four-part series on the controversial use of flame retardant chemicals in furniture, was published in May 2012 in the Chicago Tribune. Susan Klosterhaus of our Clean Water Team was interviewed and is mentioned in the fourth article titled ‘Toxic Roulette’, which investigates the use of the PBDE replacement Firemaster 550. The Tribune series exposed tactics used by the flame retardant chemical industry to mislead the public, legislators, and regulatory agencies about the efficacy and safety of their products.
As the Tribune series exemplifies, Susan’s science contributions are having an influence in the research world and on major policy discussions. In collaboration with other researchers, her work to identify the flame retardants currently used in furniture and baby products has prompted a movement to further investigate their potential toxicity and occurrence in the environment. The baby product study, voted Best Science paper of 2011 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, has received widespread attention from a variety of news outlets and has resulted in proposed legislation in several states to restrict the use of one of the flame retardants, TDCCP (also known as ‘chlorinated tris’). As a result of the Tribune series, Illinois Senator Charles Durbin has called on the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to act on the issue and address whether a new flammability standard would reduce the amount of flame retardant chemicals used in furniture in the US.