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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  • Please donate so that we can continue to stop toxics and protect the health of our children, wildlife, and the planet.

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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

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  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…

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

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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…

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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…

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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…

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WebMD: Many Fast-Food Containers Have Risky Chemical

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Science & Policy Blog: Consumer Resources

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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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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Phthoughts on phthalates: odd spelling, clear problem

Have you ever heard of phthalates or DEHP? I hadn’t either, until I read a recent US study that monitored nearly 800 pregnant women and found that exposure to a common ho…

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Does my furniture contain flame retardants?

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Pop Stop: Denmark retailer stops sale of microwave popcorn amid heal…

Some love it, some hate it: that overwhelming buttery, salty smell that fills the house every time you throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave. However, larger concerns h…

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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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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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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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Presentations: Consumer Resources

Six classes webinar 3: Flame retardants

Speaker: Arlene Blum, Ph.D. Executive Director, Green Science Policy Institute Visiting Scholar in Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley [toggle header="More …

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Keeping the couch you love: Replacing the foam for healthier furnitu…

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Considerations for Development of Effective Flammability Standards

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Navigating the Uncertainty of Compliance

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