A trade group backed by oil and chemical giants denied it was behind a campaign to block regulations on potentially toxic flame retardants in furniture. But this whistleblower just exposed the disturbing truth...

A whistleblower exposes the shady world of corporate advocacy groups-- groups that masquerade as watchdogs for public health and safety that actually operate with corporate interests in mind.

PublicIntegrity.Org reports that back in 2007, a bill banning some forms of flame retardants passed in the California State Assembly. As the bill was well on it’s way through state Senate committees, three flame retardant manufacturers made a move to stop it. These companies—Albemarle Corp., Chemtura Corp. and ICL Industrial Products—joined forces to create the trade group, Citizens for Fire Safety. CFS played into the public’s fear of fire by masquerading as a watchdog group in order to get top fire officials on board with its mission and keep fire retardants legal.

The group even went so far as to hire experts to speak on its behalf. From 2010 – 2011, CFS paid $240,000 to a Seattle burn surgeon, David Heimbach. Heimbach testified before lawmakers that flame retardants were necessary. He told a story about a baby that died in a fire after being severely burned, whichmade long-term health concerns about flame retardants causing diabetes, IQ deficits, fertility problems and cancer seem unimportant. But his story turned out to be completely false.

Groups like this have been around for a long time, originating from the days when Big Tobacco began refuting unfavorable safety and health claims. But until now, no one in the industry has ever come forward and outwardly admitted any wrongdoing.

Whistleblower and political consultant once in charge of running Citizens for Fire Safety, Grant David Gillham, says the group was affiliated with another advocacy group that he consulted for, the American Chemistry Council. The ACC had previously denied ties to the CFS but Gillham says it was members of the ACC who interviewed him for the job at CFS where his main duty was to make sure the 2007 bill died in the Senate, which it did. Gillham says he is coming forward because he feels like the American Chemistry Council misled him about the safety of flame retardants.

Gillham wrote in a letter to the California Senate on Business, Professions, and Economic Development that during his time working for CFS and ACC, 

“Several new studies critical of chemical flame retardants were published by major universities and national environmental groups. With each new damning study I counseled the American Chemistry Council and the three companies to make public the scientific data they claimed to have that refuted this highly incriminating new research. In every case, the flame retardant manufacturers simply recycled old data that had no bearing on the growing body of new, and deeply troubling, research. 

I am now of the opinion that Albemarle, Chemtura, and Israeli Chemical Corporation never had any adequate science to support their claims that the chemical flame retardants they were making billions from worked or that exposure to them was safe.In hindsight, it is my opinion that Albemarle, Chemtura, Israeli Chemical Corporation, and the American Chemistry Council fully intended to conduct a dishonest advocacy and lobbying."

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.

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