San Francisco Department of the Environment

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Flame Retardant Chemicals

The health hazards of flame retardant chemicals have been recognized for many years, yet they continue to be used around the world to meet fire safety standards in consumer products and construction materials.

Recently, fire safety regulations for upholstered home furniture have changed to encourage other manufacturing methods, which do not use these chemicals, TB 117-2013 (PDF). Because of this change, and in response to consumer health concerns, many manufacturers have promised to stop adding flame retardant chemicals to polyurethane foam used in their products.

In 2014, California passed Senate Bill 1019 (SB 1019) which requires labeling of upholstered furniture to disclose the presence of flame retardant chemicals on furniture labels. While TB117-2013 outlines the test for flammability; SB 1019 is a right-to-know bill that tells retailers and consumers if flame retardant chemicals have been used to manufacture a piece of furniture. All upholstered furniture manufactured after January 1, 2015 must meet the SB 1019 labeling requirements in California.

Additional Resources

Green Science Policy Institute
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Federal EPA’s plans for controlling flame retardant chemicals
How California approves flame retardant fabrics and chemicals
Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to removing flame retardant chemicals from hospital furniture

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