"The problem, [the fire expert] argues, is that the standard is based on applying a small flame to a bare piece of foam - a situation unlikely to happen in real life. ... In real life, before the flame gets to the foam, it has to ignite the fabric. Once the fabric catches fire, it becomes a sheet of flame that can easily overwhelm the fire-suppression properties of treated foam. In tests, TB 117 compliant chairs catch fire just as easily as ones that aren't compliant - and they burn just as hot."
So the entire country is now exposed to the dangers of these chemicals because in 1975 some bureaucrats at an obscure government agency in California came up with an arbitrary standard that was not based in reality.
The article cites a retardant advocate as saying "Deaths caused by furniture fires dropped from 1,400 in 1980 to 600 in 2004; a 57 percent reduction."
We know that almost all of these couch fires are caused by people falling asleep while smoking cigarettes.
According to the CDC, in the same period, cigarette consumption in the US adult population has fallen from 33.2% in 1980 to 20.9% in 2004. (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0762370.html)
So a certain portion of the decline is due to the reduction in cigarette use.
Also, 43 out of 50 states now mandate "fire safe" cigarettes which contain substances such as ethylene vinyl acetate which increase the chance an unsmoked but lit cigarette will stop burning. The presence of these cigarettes has also certainly led to fewer couch fires.
It is unlikely that the entire 57 percent reduction in couch fires over 24 years is entirely due to the use of carcinogenic flame retardants.
Those who smoke cigarettes also smoke a lot less than they used to, so total cigarette consumption is maybe only half as much or less compared to what it once was.
At some point they figured out that smoking is somewhat less bad for you if you smoke outside
That's not true. If you live in the house of someone who was formerly a heavy smoker then you have a higher cancer risk yourself, because the radiation from the cigarrettes gets into the walls and carpet. Which means that smokers themselves also have a lower cancer risk if they smoke outside for the same reason. I'd imagine it also somewhat reduces their risk for heart attack, since second hand smoke increases your risk of heart attack, although I haven't seen any stats on that.
I've known several.
> This may be dismissed as anecdotal by the type of vehement anti-smoking zealot you seem to be
I guess your anecdotal evidence trumps my anecdotal evidence. Carry on.
Also see the horrific "food pyramid" (or, if we named it properly, the "morbid obesity and recipe for metabolic syndrome pyramid").
Do you have a source for energy efficient CFLs "emitting mercury"?
I'd guess that a large percentage of people who buy CFLs are totally unaware of how to deal with these hazards (or are even unaware that the bulbs contain poisonous material).
Also, the rise in the use of CFLs means that more people will be exposed to mercury while mining it and while assembling the lamps (probably in places like China, where occupational health laws are fairly lax).
Also consider that in today's litigious world, no one wants to say "don't worry if you break a bulb, there's not really enough mercury to be dangerous in one" lest someone starts breaking bulbs with wild abandon and then suing the authority that told them they 'weren't dangerous'.
There's some interesting discussion on this topic here: http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/297/how-dangerou...
People that support these things are not really all that clued in.
There are many levels of fail.
I've seen local ordinances that in effect mandate the incorrect usage of CFLs. As such, a fixture at my mom's house results in a burned out (due to overheating) CFL about once every 6 months.
Are you talking about packaging in the US? The packaging in the EU, I saw so far, don't even mention the mercury, not to mention cleaning instructions.
Lignuist's comment made me think they were talking about intact lamps.
Recently mercury-free LED light bulbs are getting more popular.
And you can still buy 100W incandescent light bulbs everywhere. The workaround is that they are marketed as for special use (shock-resistant).