Consumer Resources

FEATURED: Click here for our buyers’ guide to furniture without flame retardants.

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TEDx Wellesley College: Where have all the toxic chemicals gone?

Introduction

Flame retardant chemicals have been associated with a variety of human health issues, including hormone disruption, reduced fertility, and cancer. It is prudent to reduce our contact with such chemicals as much as we can.

This page contains information on what you can do at home and when you shop to reduce exposure to flame retardant chemicals, as well as policy changes that you can advocate for.

Be sure to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter to stay up to date on the latest news and opportunities to take action.

Quick Tips

  • Look for products with a TB117-2013 label.
  • Make sure to wash your hands frequently, and always before eating.
  • Keep dust levels down by damp dusting and wet mopping.
  • Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter
  • Open windows to improve indoor air quality.

TB117-2013 croppedFurniture

TB117-2013, implemented in 2015, allows for safer, healthier furniture but does not ban added flame retardants. Look for a TB117-2013 label (with wording as on right) that states whether or not furniture contains added flame retardants. Below we have included more information about flame retardants and furniture, including guidelines for buying flame retardant-free furniture.

Furniture Facts:

doesitcontainFRs

Buyers’ Guide:

FR free furniture

Shopping Tips:

  • Avoid products with a TB117 label
  • Look for products with a TB117-2013 label
  • Verify with the manufacturer that the product does not contain flame retardants
  • If you don’t want a new couch, swap out your cushions for flame retardant-free foam

Children’s Products

As of January 2014, most children’s products (except car seats) are exempt from flammability standards in California. New products are likely free of added flame retardants, but it is important to verify before buying.

childrensproducts

When shopping for children’s products:

  • Avoid products with a TB117 label
  • Ask the retailer if the product contains flame retardants
  • Consider buying organic

Mattresses

Adult mattresses

According to the mattress industry, flame retardants are not used in foam in adult mattresses in the U.S. The federal mattress standard, called 16 CFR 1633, requires that the finished mattress meet a very severe and lengthy open flame ignition test. To meet this requirement, barrier materials such as fire-resistant fiber batting or boric acid treated cotton fiber are wrapped around the mattress foam.

Crib/Infant Mattresses

Baby mattresses with a TB117 label are likely to contain flame retardant chemicals and should be avoided. Mattresses produced after January 1, 2014 will not have such a label and are unlikely to contain the chemicals, but it is prudent to verify with the retailer to make sure. A report on crib/ infant mattresses from Clean & Healthy New York provides information on some manufacturers.

Building Products

All plastic foam insulations contain flame retardant chemicals of concern.

Learn more by visiting our page on flame retardants in building products.

Take Action

Urge the Consumer Product Safety Commission to move forward with their draft furniture flammability standard which will provide fire safety without the addition of toxic chemicals to products.

  • Sign our petition to the CPSC to Take the Toxic Chemicals out of my Couch. We ask the CPSC to hurry up and enact their draft standard.
  • Write to the CPSC – See below for Sample Comment:

    Sample Comment to CPSC

    “Dear Acting Chairman: CPSC should immediately move forward with a furniture flammability standard to address smoldering ignitions following their 2008 draft standard or the new California standard TB117-2013. A smolder standard would reduce harmful and ineffective flame retardant chemicals in the nation’s furniture and prevent harm to our population’s health and environment. It would improve furniture safety now by helping to prevent the majority of furniture fires and deaths caused by smoldering cigarettes”

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Green Science Policy Institute provides information to the public as a service. The content of our website, publications, and correspondence should not be considered advice or endorsement and is for informational purposes only. As a scientific institute, we strive for accuracy; however, occasional errors are unavoidable. Green Science Policy Institute is not responsible for decisions made based on information we provide.

Press: Consumer Resources

The Hans India: Greasepaper packaging contains harmful chemicals

We may opt to cut back on fast food to avoid an overload of fat and calories. Yet, there is another reason to resist the temptation to indulge in fast food. The grease…

04 Feb 2017

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Times Herald-Record: Study: Toxic chemicals in Newburgh water, local…

  The family of toxic chemicals that includes the ones behind the closure of the City of Newburgh's primary water supply and the contamination of p…

02 Feb 2017

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Bloomberg: Burgers Aren’t the Only Fast-Food Products That Could Har…

  The risky chemicals that keep cooking grease from leaking out of fast-food containers are widespread, according to a peer-revie…

02 Feb 2017

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Crain's Chicago Business: Fast-food wrappers may contain dangerous c…

The risky chemicals that keep cooking grease from leaking out of fast-food containers are widespread, according to a peer-reviewed study released Wednesday. Researc…

02 Feb 2017

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Michigan Radio: Study finds fluorinated chemicals in fast food packa…

Listen A new study found fluorinated chemicals in one third of the fast food packages researchers tested. The chemicals keep oil and grease from le…

02 Feb 2017

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Fusion: Another reason to avoid fast food: Its packaging might conta…

  Fast food obviously isn’t great for your health, but a new study from the Silent Spring Institute is providing even more incentive to cut back…

01 Feb 2017

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WebMD: Many Fast-Food Containers Have Risky Chemical

  The next time you get a muffin with your coffee or pick up a hamburger at a drive-thru, you could also be getting a side of chemicals that have…

01 Feb 2017

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Fair Warning: Ketchup or PFAS With Those Fries?

   As if cheeseburgers, fries and microwave popcorn weren’t enough of a dietary worry, now comes word that fast-food packaging is also a cause for concer…

01 Feb 2017

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The Telegraph: Warning: fast food packaging and grease-proof paper c…

    Some fast food packaging contains potentially harmful chemicals that can leach into food, warns a new study.Researchers found more tha…

01 Feb 2017

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CBS SF - KPIX 5: Study: Fast Food Wrappers Contain Cancer-Causing Ch…

  You already knew fast food wasn’t the healthiest option, but a new study is revealing a new health concern, in the packaging. Fluorinated chemical…

01 Feb 2017

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CNN: Report finds chemicals in one-third of fast food packaging

  Most of the time, when you order fast food, you know exactly what you're getting: an inexpensive meal that tastes great but is probably loaded with f…

01 Feb 2017

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The Verge: Troubling chemicals found in wide range of fast-food wrap…

  Americans love fast food, but the materials used to serve short-order fare may contain harmful synthetic chemicals, a new study has found. Previous res…

01 Feb 2017

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Science & Policy Blog: Consumer Resources

Four times breast cancer risk linked to prenatal DDT exposure

Barking up the wrong branch of the family tree For years scientists studied women who were exposed to DDT as adults. An analysis of existing research found “no signifi…

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To be, or not to be, BPA-free

When consumer outcry got loud enough and states started their own bans, manufacturers stopped using bisphenol-A (BPA) in some baby products. In 2012, the FDA took limited…

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Does my furniture contain flame retardants?

Does my furniture contain flame retardants? Thanks to the updated standard TB117-2013, upholstered furniture is increasingly available in the US without flame retard…

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The Nature of the Beast

This article is the second installment of our blog series, “Scientist Spotlight: The Scientists Behind our Consumer Products Petition." [caption id="attachment_7812" a…

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It all comes out in the wash

Flame retardant chemicals don’t stay put in products. A study published in Environmental Science & Technology reveals they are hitching a ride on our clothes and taki…

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Why can’t I buy flame retardant-free furniture in California yet?

Perhaps you, too, were waiting for that clock to strike midnight on January 1, 2014 to buy a new sofa. In that one second, a regulation that led to the use of toxic flame…

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Environmental injustice

Vulnerable communities bear higher burdens of flame retardants A recent study of Mexican-American children in California found that those who live in areas with little a…

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Backfire: Unintended Consequences of Flame Retardants

Fun fact. Combustion scientist, Donald Lucas, started his career doing research at temperatures near absolute zero (−430°F) before working in combustion, where temperatur…

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Presentations: Consumer Resources

Halogenated flame retardants: A global concern

Arlene Blum, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar, Dept. of Chemistry, UC Berkeley Event Flame Retardant Dilemma Symposium 2012: Do flame …

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Flame Retardants and Product Prioritization in the California Safer …

Speaker: Meredith Williams, PhD Deputy Director, California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Event Green Scienc…

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Six classes webinar 8: Green chemistry

Speaker: Bob Peoples, Ph.D. Former Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute Event Six Classes Webinar Series Date & T…

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Flame Retardant Science and the Furniture Industry – A Success Story

Speaker: David Panning, MS, MBA, Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association Event Flame Retardant Dilemma S…

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The Flame Retardant Dilemma Series as an Example of Science-Driven P…

Speaker: Claudia Polsky, JD, Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice Event Flame Retardant Dilemma Symposiu…

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Progress on safer consumer product regulations & green chemistry

Speaker: Debbie Raphael, Director, California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control Event Flame Retardant Dilemma Symposium 2012:…

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From the Flame Retardant Dilemma to Toxic Hot Seat

Speaker: Kirby Walker, Director and Producer of Toxic Hot Seat Event Flame Retardant Dilemma Symposium Date & Time F…

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Six classes webinar 6: Heavy metals

Speaker: Graham Peaslee, Ph.D. Hartgerink Professor of Chemistry, Hope College Event Six Classes Webinar Series Date …

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Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers…

Speaker: Callie Lyons Author, Journalist Event The Flame Retardant Dilemma and Beyond Date & Time Friday, February …

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Six classes webinar 4: Endocrine disrupting plasticizers

Speaker: Carol Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Inc. Event Six Classes Webinar Series Date & Ti…

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Highly Fluorinated Substances: Our Evolving Challenge

Speaker: Andrew Lindstrom, PhD U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Event The Flame Retardant Dilemma and Beyond Date …

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Navigating the Uncertainty of Compliance

Speaker: Bill Perdue VP Regulatory Affairs, American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) Event Green Science Policy Workshop: L…

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