Thirty-seven years ago, tobacco companies joined forces with companies that make flame retardant chemicals to convince politicians and the public that we did not need safer cigarettes (cigarettes that would self-extinguish and thus cause fewer house fires) – instead we needed our furniture doused with chemicals to make it less flammable.
The result? Rather than making safer products, industry created a captive market for flame retardant chemicals. By stoking the flames of fear, the chemical companies made millions of dollars and ensured a steady demand for their toxic products across the nation.
The fact that these chemicals provided no fire safety benefit in furniture and baby products made no difference. The chemical industry rigorously denied any negative health effects associated with their toxic flame retardants. Now thirty years later, toxic flame retardant chemicals are widespread in furniture, baby and child care products, and in many other foam products.
Good News: California’s furniture flammability standard, which has become a de facto national requirement, is on track to adopt a new standard that will provide fire safety and will not require the use of flame retardant chemicals. The new standard is expected to go into effect on January 1, 2014, although manufacturers will not be required to comply with the new standard until January 1, 2015.
The Center for Environmental Health is working to ensure all your furniture and baby products are both non-toxic and fire-safe. You can help CEH protect people’s health AND improve fire safety by letting furniture manufacturers know that you want toxic-free fire safety NOW and can’t wait another year.