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

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 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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  • 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

TIME: You Asked: Can My Couch Give Me Cancer?

  Cancer is just one of many health concerns linked to the chemical treatments used in furniture. Ask a public health scientist about couches and canc…

24 Aug 2016

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PBS NewsHour: What are PFASs, the toxic chemicals being found in dri…

  The researchers suggest the broad spread of PFASs in water sources is partly from fire fighting foams and sprays used in training simulations by the …

12 Aug 2016

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TIME: How to Find Out If Your Drinking Water Is Safe

  To find out if your local water supply does contain PFASs in excessive amounts, the EPA says your county health department may help you test it. If …

10 Aug 2016

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NPR: Federal Data Shows Firefighting Chemicals In U.S. Drinking Wate…

  The chemicals showed up more often near sites where these firefighting chemicals are common, such as airports or military bases. "During firefig…

09 Aug 2016

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CNN: Study: Public water supply is unsafe for millions of Americans

  PFASs seem to be everywhere. They are found "in wildlife and human tissue and bodily fluids all over the globe," explained Arlene Blum, a co-author…

09 Aug 2016

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CBS Local: California Kids Have Higher Levels Of Flame Retardant Che…

Watch Just weeks after congress passed a law giving the Environmental Protection Agency more power to ban harmful chemicals; a new study demonstrates just …

11 Jul 2016

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CNN: Dangerous chemicals hiding in everyday products

Watch Video It was long believed that you could acquire "better living through chemistry." But that may really not be the case. In a landmark alliance, kn…

01 Jul 2016

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Alaska Public Media: How safe are your clothes? Speaker talks about …

Listen How safe is your raincoat? Or your carpet? Biophysical chemist Arlene Blum, the director of the Green Science Policy Institute, is speaking in Anc…

27 Jun 2016

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Chemical Watch: PFCs in drinking water link to human blood levels

Californian researchers have found a possible link between blood levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), in the general population, and concentratio…

15 Jun 2016

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Chemical Watch: US House considers modifying flammability standards …

Congressman Jared Huffman (D–California) has introduced legislation to revise the federal flammability standard for children's car seats. This would al…

03 Jun 2016

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CBS Local: Fire-Suppressing Foam’s Toxic Chemicals Detected In Calif…

Watch Video When disaster strikes on a runway, fire suppressing foam can be a lifesaver. For decades, however, there was a hidden danger in the foam itsel…

17 May 2016

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KPFA Terra Verde Radio: A Sticky Issue: The Toxic Truth About Teflon…

Listen Ever wondered if that chemical coating on your nonstick pan was safe for your health? Tune in on Friday, April 29 to learn more about the toxic chemicals present in the nonstick and waterpr…

29 Apr 2016

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Science & Policy Blog: Consumer Resources

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

Rolf Halden: halogenated flame retardants contaminate natural resources and our bodies Rolf Halden is a professor at Arizona State University, adjunct faculty at John …

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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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What’s in your house dust? Study Participants Wanted

Do you live in Northern California? Are you planning to buy a new couch or swap out your old foam cushions for new, flame retardant-free furnishings before November, 2…

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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…

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Forty years later TSCA gets an overhaul

In June, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (TSCA reform, hereafter), a revision to the 1976 Toxic Substance…

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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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Getting the most out of our redesigned website

One month ago, Green Science Policy Institute launched our redesigned website for 2014. We reimagined the structure and layout from the ground up to help us achieve our m…

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Presentations: Consumer Resources

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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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, December …

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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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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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Responsible disposal of flame retarded furniture foam

Speaker: Stephen Naylor, PhD, Science and Policy Associate, Green Science Policy Institute Event Flame Retardant Dilemma Symp…

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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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Flame Retardant Dilemma and Beyond

Speaker: Joseph Fleming Deputy Chief, Boston Fire Department Event The Flame Retardant Dilemma and Beyond Date & Tim…

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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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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 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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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…

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