Consumer Resources


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

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CBS ConsumerWatch: Health expert warns of toxic chemicals in baby products

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

  • Avoid foam-filled products with a TB117 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.

Furniture

The California furniture flammability standard changed on January 1, 2014, with mandatory compliance by January 1, 2015. 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

Children’s Products

As of January 2014, most children’s products are exempt from flammability standards in California. Soon, new products will likely be free of added flame retardants, but it is always 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 Adler: 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

CNN: Where are dangerous toxins lurking in your home?

Watch Video It’s what allows the skier to slice through snow, and his suit stays dry: chemicals that repel water and oil, coating many microwave popcorn bags…

10 Jul 2015

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New York Times: Chemicals in your popcorn?

What do a pizza box, a polar bear and you have in common? All carry a kind of industrial toxicant called poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFA…

04 Jun 2015

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Guardian: Flame retardants may be coming off of furniture, but they'…

“When’s the last time you watched TV by candlelight?” asks Arlene Blum, founder of the Green Science Policy Institute. Blum questions the logic of te…

19 May 2015

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Guardian: Quest to eliminate chemical flame retardants from Californ…

A California regulation effectively eliminated the need for chemical flame retardants in furniture in November 2013. Two years later, though, experts s…

15 May 2015

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New York Times and Retro Report: A Flame Retardant That Came With It…

This New York Times article, featuring a video by Retro Report, concisely recounts the flame retardant saga. If you closely examine your living room cou…

03 May 2015

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New York Times: Commonly Used Chemicals Come Under New Scrutiny

A top federal health official and hundreds of environmental scientists on Friday voiced new health concerns about a common class of chemic…

01 May 2015

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Science Insider: Scientists call for limits on emerging class of com…

More than 200 scientists from 38 countries spoke with one voice today, calling for curbs on the global production and use of a class of chemicals found in …

01 May 2015

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Huffington Post: Scientists Issue Warning Over Chemicals Common In C…

In 1961, a DuPont toxicologist warned colleagues that exposure to their company's increasingly popular Teflon chemicals enlarged the livers of rats and …

01 May 2015

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Michigan Public Radio Environment Report: Furniture Makers Getting R…

This week, we’re bringing you a series of stories about firefighters and cancer. Firefighters say they’re worried about getting exposed to certain ki…

09 Apr 2015

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Chicago Tribune: Furniture firms shun flame retardants but some toxi…

New safety regulations allow upholstered furniture to be made without flame retardants, but consumers may find it difficult to tell whether a retail…

23 Jan 2015

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The Sacramento Bee: Concern grows in firefighters, others after canc…

A growing body of evidence found an array of flame-retardant chemicals – many which are carcinogenic – in test participants, a potential health concern f…

30 Nov 2014

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Counsel & Heal: Researchers Identified Flame Retardant, TCEP in Amer…

Americans are contaminated with many toxic flame retardants, a new study reported. According to the researchers at the Silent Spring Institute and the Uni…

12 Nov 2014

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Science & Policy Blog: Consumer Resources

The Proof is in the Sewage: Can Harmful Chemicals Move from Sofas to…

  This article is the first installment of our blog series, “Scientist Spotlight: The Scientists Behind our Consumer Products Petition." Rolf Halden: halogenated…

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Are flame retardants the secret ingredient in your home-cooked meals…

A new study has found that brominated flame retardants are present in black thermo cups and kitchen utensils bought in Europe. These types of chemicals have been linked t…

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Flame Retardants in Car Seats—Do We Need Them?

Car seats are essential to protecting children in cars. Due to a federal motor vehicle flammability standard, many materials in automobiles, including car seats, contain …

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Does my furniture contain flame retardants?

Question of the week Does my furniture contain flame retardants? The unsatisfactory answer is that the only way to know for sure is to test the foam by analytical ch…

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First-in-the-nation report on chemicals in kids’ products

Recently, my niece and nephew stopped by a neighborhood street fair.  There was the usual fare but most fun, as far as the kids were concerned, was the face painting.  My…

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New research finds association between cat hyperthyroid disease and …

An informative new study of 72 cats by Mensching, et al. confirmed that domestic cats have high concentrations of PBDE flame retardants in their blood. The study c…

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A new year, with promising new regulations

2013 was a productive year for fire safety and for environmental health! Two important regulatory changes that take effect this year have the power to reduce the use …

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My foam exchange story: How I saved big bucks without passing the bu…

I bought my sofa in California, “home” of the TB117 standard. I know 75-94% of sofas tested contain flame retardants. And clear as day, sewn onto my couch was a TB117 lab…

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Presentations: Consumer Resources

Six classes webinar 1: Fluorinated chemicals

Speaker: Jennifer Field, Ph.D. Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Oregon State University Event Six Classes Webinar Ser…

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Six classes webinar 2: Antimicrobials

Speaker: Gary Ginsberg, Ph.D. Toxicologist, Connecticut Dept. of Public Health Yale University, University of Connecticut Ev…

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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 5: Solvents

Speaker: Liz Harriman Deputy Director, Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute Event Six Classes Webinar Series Dat…

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Toward Closing the Mass Balance on PFASs Associated with Consumer Pr…

Speakers: Jennifer Field Ph.D., Professor of Environmental & Molecular Toxicology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA and Graham Peaslee, Ph.D., Profess…

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California’s Safer Consumer Product Program: Opportunities to affect…

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

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Considerations for Development of Effective Flammability Standards

Speaker: Bob Luedeka Executive Director, Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) Event Green Science Policy Workshop: Life after…

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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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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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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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We Built This City on HFRs: Initiatives to Reduce Flame Retardants i…

Speaker: Avery Lindeman, MSc, Deputy Director, Green Science Policy Institute Event Flame Retardant Dilemma Symposium Dat…

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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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