Lesson Plan

Fire Safety and Chemicals in Our Clothing


This 13-minute video examines the 1977 federal ban on the use of Tris in children's apparel, a flame retardant suspected to cause kidney cancer in humans. However, Tris continued to be used in a host of other products, including cribs, car seats and furniture.

The lesson plan provided is ideal for high school chemistry students but includes modifications for grades 7-8.


Students will:

  • Extract relevant information from a Safety Data Sheet to justify a scientific argument
  • Assess the effect certain chemical and physical properties have on the application of certain chemicals
  • Make a recommendation to a children’s clothing company for a flame retardant to treat their products. Present your recommendation to a group of stakeholders.
  • Science
  • Public Health
  • Health
  • 1970s America
For Teachers

Essential Questions

  • How can the chemical and physical properties of a substance be used to determine its potential applications?
  • How can the Safety Data Sheet (S.D.S.) be used to inform corporate decision making?
  • How does the audience affect the construction of a presentation?

Additional Resources

Transcript for "Fire Safety and Chemicals in Our Clothes"Retro Report 
Aspirin Safety Data SheetPubChem 
Brominated Tris Safety Data SheetPubChem 
Chlorinated Tris Safety Data SheetPubChem 
How can you make a good presentation even more effectiveCalifornia State Council on Developmental Disabilities 

Substances are made from different types of atoms, which combine with one another in various ways. Atoms form molecules that range in size from two to thousands of atoms.

Each pure substance has characteristic physical and chemical properties (for any bulk quantity under given conditions) that can be used to identify it.

The structure and interactions of matter at the bulk scale are determined by electrical forces within and between atoms.

  • Analyzing & interpreting data
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information

Gather relevant information from multiple sources while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.

Identify evidence that draws information from multiple sources to support claims, noting evidentiary limitations

Construct arguments using claims and evidence from multiple sources, while acknowledging the strengths and limitations of the arguments.

Construct arguments using precise and knowledgeable claims, with evidence from multiple sources, while acknowledging counterclaims and evidentiary weaknesses.

Questions? Tips? Concerns? Reach out to our Director of Education, David Olson: dolson@retroreport.com