Consumer Resources


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

facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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”

Support Green Science Policy Institute

  • Please sign up to receive our monthly e-newsletters about chemicals of concern, science, policy and protecting health.

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

Learn More

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

Quest to eliminate chemical flame retardants from Californian homes …

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

Scientists call for limits on emerging class of common, long-lived c…

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

Read more

Scientists Issue Warning Over Chemicals Common In Carpets, Coats, Co…

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

Huffington Post: Would you like flame retardants with that couch?

Most of Aimee Robinson's customers are moms. And more of them are starting to ask questions about the contents of the couches and chairs she constructs.…

21 Jul 2014

Read more

Houston Chronicle: Chem-free beds are doctor's orders

Article includes this section on the Safer Sofa Foam Exchange: The demand for cleaner furnishings across the country is leading to some other unconven…

04 Jul 2014

Read more

SF Chronicle: Program seeks to get harmful chemicals out of furnitur…

When Lori Yonelunas decided to detoxify her life, she knew she had to do something about her toxic leather couch but was reluctant to get rid of it.…

18 Jun 2014

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
«
»

Science & Policy Blog: Consumer Resources

Bacteria get an image makeover

In the 1963 animated film The Sword in the Stone, two wizards face off in a climactic duel, transforming themselves into an increasingly fearsome series of creatures …

Read more

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 …

Read more

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…

Read more

A broken fluorescent bulb? What now?

Energy analyst John Rogers of the Union of Concerned Scientists put it best, “don’t panic” but do clean it up safely. When a fluorescent bulb, or CFL, breaks, a small am…

Read more

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…

Read more

Walmart tackles its "top ten"

In September 2013, Walmart announced a plan to phase out ten hazardous chemicals found in many of the products it sells. Now, Walmart has notified its suppliers they will…

Read more

Industry funded website obscures flame retardant issues

As recent changes in regulations and increased media coverage bring deserved attention to the issue of flame retardant chemicals in consumer products, the chemical indust…

Read more

Trading Health for Small Conveniences?

“Stain-resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal” is how journalist Callie Lyons describes a highly fluorinated chemical called C8. When C8 was released into the air a…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
«
»

Presentations: Consumer Resources

Considerations for Development of Effective Flammability Standards

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

Read more

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…

Read more

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 …

Read more

Six classes webinar 4: Endocrine disrupting plasticizers

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

Read more

Six classes webinar 2: Antimicrobials

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

Read more

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

Speaker: Michael Gorham, President, Foam Order Event Flame Retardant Dilemma Symposium Date …

Read more

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 …

Read more

Six classes webinar 8: Green chemistry

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

Read more

Changing Furniture Standards: CPSC, NFPA, and the U.K.

Speaker: Avery Lindeman, MSc Deputy Director, Green Science Policy Institute Event Green Science Policy Workshop: Life after…

Read more

Six classes webinar 6: Heavy metals

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

Read more

Progress on safer consumer product regulations & green chemistry

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

Read more

Navigating the Uncertainty of Compliance

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

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3