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California Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to undo furniture fire-safety standards his administration put into place back in 1975. To comply with the regulations, furniture manufacturers added a chemical called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDE, to finished couches. The governor calls the chemicals toxic, and studies have shown that the Californians have higher concentrations of PBDEs in their bodies than people living elsewhere.

But ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross points to ACSH s 2006 publication, Brominated Flame Retardants: A Burning Issue, which says PBDEs save lives while posing no adverse health risk. Just because people are exposed to the chemicals does not mean they pose a danger, he notes. Nevertheless, whenever some hysterical environmentalist uses the term flame-retardant, it always comes with the modifier toxic, without any evidence to support that assertion aside from its presence.