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In the midst of increasing information about the ubiquity of our exposure to industrial flame retardants, the revision of a 40-year-old furniture flammability standard in California last month could dramatically reduce the amount of flame retardants added to foam-filled furniture in the future…

Under the old standard, upholstered furniture sold in California had to meet an open flame test, which required that it withstand ignition from direct contact with an open flame for a certain number of seconds. With furniture filled with inherently flammable polystyrene foam, meeting that standard required the use of chemical flame retardants. The new standard abandons the open flame test, and instead requires that upholstered furniture resist ignition from smoldering objects on the surface, a much more common cause of fires…

Molly Rauch