Pressure by environmental activists about the alleged health hazards associated with flame retardants commonly used in consumer products appears to be having some impact. Senator Charles Shumer (D-NY) recently proposed legislation that would ban what he calls “the ten worst” flame retardants from upholstered furniture and children’s products including changing table pads, portable crib mattresses, pajamas, nap mats, and nursing pillows. His bill would ban TDCPP, TCEP, TBBPA, decabromodiphenyl ether, antimony trioxide, HBCD, TBPH, TBB, chlorinated paraffins, and TCPP. In addition to banning some flame retardants, Schumer’s bill will also require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to study all others to identify dangers and possibly ban them as well. The legislation has been dubbed “The Children and Firefighter Protection Act.”
According to Sen. Schumer’s press release, his proposed legislation responds to claims that flame retardants can cause developmental delays in children and cancers in firefighters when the material burns.
Additionally, the senator claims that a recent study “found that exposure to flame retardant compounds – linked to cancer and endocrine disruption – raised the levels of the toxic substance in children by up to 23 times their mother’s exposure levels.”
For information from Se. Shumer’s office, see:
California, seemingly always first on such legislation, had already instituted regulations set to take place on January 1, 2015 that can allow furniture manufacturers to satisfy flame retardancy standards without the use of traditional flame retardant chemicals. In August, a federal judge rejected a challenge to those regulations by flame retardant manufacturer Chemtura Corporation and the American Chemistry Council. The new standard requires only that upholstered furniture resist smoldering materials, whereas the old, more stringent standard required resistance to an open flame for 12 seconds—a standard virtually impossible to meet without the use of chemicals. For the full standard, see:
Further developments in this area are expected in 2015.