Some flame retardants make fires more deadly

You'd think adding flame retardants to material would generally make it safer — but it seems that flame retardants can actually make fires more deadly.

This alarming finding comes from new research presented by Dr Anna Stec from the University of Central Lancashire, at the American Chemical Society's Spring meeting.

Top image: Old Onliner on Flickr.

Halogen-based flame retardants are used on carpets, furniture upholstery, crib mattresses, and more, to reduce the ability of the material to ignite. However, while visible flames are reduced, the chemical aftermath of the fires is worsened.

It's the toxic gases caused by fires that kill the most people — and halogen-based flame retardants can actually make those gases worse, by increasing the amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide released during burning.

So what should you use to fireproof your life? Apparently mineral-based and intumescent fire retardants won't worsen the toxic effects of a burn.