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”

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.

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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

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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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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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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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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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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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…

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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 within the next ye…

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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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Presentations: Consumer Resources

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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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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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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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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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 5: Solvents

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

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

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

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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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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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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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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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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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