Deca-BDE is a controversial chemical. According to the SeattlePI:
Stung by the Legislature's groundbreaking ban of a controversial fire retardant, the chemical industry isn't giving up.
Even with Gov. Chris Gregoire's approval all but assured -- she's scheduled to sign the legislation today -- it still didn't extinguish the chemical manufacturers' fight. They've run full-page ads in the state's largest newspapers. They wrote a letter to Gregoire urging a veto. Since 2005, they've spent more than $220,000 here lobbying against a ban.
Why the big spending? Because there is potentially more at stake than prohibitions on flame retardants called PBDEs in Washington furniture, televisions and computers.
A ban here could be the beginning of the end for PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers. It could mark a move toward more aggressive protections by local governments -- at a time when the federal government is largely ineffectual in its regulation of long-used but potentially dangerous industrial chemicals.
"The larger story is that there is a highly organized and very well-funded effort to change the way in which chemicals are regulated around the world," said John Kyte, spokesman for the Bromine Science and Environmental Forum, a trade group representing PBDE manufacturers.
One of these days, if a guy like me gets rich in the business, I would have a business model that would put together publicly accessible knowledge bases that would allow environmentalists, industry trade groups, academics, legislators and the general public to look at the same data at the same time and make more scientific conclusions than they are doing now.
My jaundiced eye says this is basically going to come down to some study saying that the increase in the number of cancers in some lab mice goes up x% when they stuff Deca down their throats, and on the other hand we're going to see a repeat of the empty crib commercial because little Johnny's pajamas didn't have fire-retardant. Then somebody else is going to charge that Johnny can't read because the flame retardant in his pajamas is giving him brain damage.
In my business, I make systems that would allow the manufacturer of pajamas (or furniture, or whatever) identify the commodity in his supply chain which is controversial and allow him to swap that out and run a simulation of what a new and improved 'organic' product would cost. I'm talking hours here. With blog-speed, this could become its own marketing campaign. The trick is to make the market that fast.
Even though I'm caustic about environmentalist thinking (mostly because it is ignorant of manufacturing processes and puts an arbitrary infinite cost on those things it wishes to avoid), I have no problem with their end goals. But it should fall to the consumer to have and know the alternatives. I want to be able to go to Dollar Tree and buy pajamas for a buck and know that they are not fire-safe, or that they are fire-safe with DecaBDE for 2 bucks or that they are firesafe with the new post-Washington State controvery Sierra Club approved fire retardant for 3 bucks.
Open the process and break the interest group oligopoly on product R&D. Or sleep naked and buy a fire extinguisher.