There are over 80,000 chemicals in use today. The story of TRIS, removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s, illustrates just how hard it is to regulate chemicals, or to even know if they’re safe.

Fire Safety and Chemicals in our Clothes

Producer: Jill Rosenbaum
Editor: Anne Alvergue
Reporter: Olivia Katrandjian

In 1977, the flame retardant TRIS was removed from children’s pajamas as a suspected carcinogen, but it continued to be used in a host of other products—including baby cribs, car seats, and furniture.

Since then, scientists have discovered that flame retardants can leach out of products into household dust, collect in our bodies, and pose health risks, especially to developing babies.

But no flame retardant has been banned by the federal government, and there are no specific tests required before a new chemical is put on the market. And with 80,000 untested chemicals out there, that raises a question: how do we know what’s safe?

For more information, watch the feature length documentary Toxic Hot Seat.


More on the Story

A Flame Retardant That Came With Its Own Threat to Health The New York Times
The Toxic Chemicals That Lurk in Cushy Old Couches TakePart
We Live With 80,000 Untested Chemicals in Consumer Products Gizmodo
Chemicals in Your Popcorn? The New York Times
Stronger Regulation of Toxic Chemicals The New York Times
‘I Lied About Toxic Chemicals for Exxon, DuPont, and Their Lobbyists’ The Daily Beast
When Safety Goes Up in Flames The TakeAway