Toxic Hot Seat

Toxic Hot Seat

Toxic Hot Seat is a documentary by HBO about the toxic chemicals used in mattresses and furniture as fire retardants and the outdated laws, based on fraudulent claims, that keep them in use. The documentary comes on the heels of the Pulitzer Prize-winning multi-part article, "Playing With Fire," published in the Chicago Tribune in 2012 that brought to light the hazardous nature of these chemicals we are surrounding ourselves with.

All 84,000 of them.

The film follows lawmakers, activists, and scientists as they try to repeal the extremely strict fire retardant law, TB117, in California but clash with the three major chemical companies that produce almost all the chemical fire-retardants used in the furniture industry. Toxic Hot Seat offers many points of view, including those of the people in favor of keeping TB117 in place. But the two most poignant stories, the threads that weave the whole piece together, are those of the Chicago Tribune journalists who wrote "Playing With Fire," and a San Francisco fireman who created a nonprofit dedicated to the removal of these hazardous chemicals in furniture and mattresses after he was diagnosed with cancer.

At its' core, Toxic Hot Seat is a David and Goliath story. A handful of activists, state representatives, and victims take on three massive multi-billion dollar companies with a lot at stake. The fight is nationwide, from California to Maine to the Nation’s Capitol and the implications are huge; some of the statistics are staggering:

  • 84,000 chemicals are in use, the majority of which are untested;
  • Breast cancer is six times higher in female fire fighters;
  • PBDE levels found in children are three times higher than adults;
  • Several pounds of chemical fire retardants are found in an average home;
  • Brominated tris , a common fire retardant used in pajamas, showed up in children's urine within one day of exposure;
  • Banned in pajamas, Brominated tris is still found in furniture and most childrens' bedding

I highly recommend watching this documentary and am incredibly proud to work for a company that refuses to use any chemicals in their mattresses and bedding whatsoever. Watch the trailer below.


Eoin Hudson
Eoin Hudson

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