Arlene Blum was trekking in the Himalayas when new regulations to reduce the pervasiveness of flame retardants hit the books on Jan. 1 — more than seven years after she began advocating the change and 37 years after she first published an article about health dangers of the chemicals.

California’s new Technical Bulletin 117 removes a decades-old requirement that flame retardants be included in the filling of upholstered furniture. The state rule, which became the de facto standard for the rest of the nation, meant use of the chemicals flourished for years nationwide, despite mounting evidence implicating them in neurological and reproductive disorders, and cancers. For all their ills, the chemicals may not actually slow fires…

Lynne Peeples