State bans on toxic furniture flame retardants grows

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Massachusetts looks to become the latest state to ban certain chemical flame retardants from upholstered furniture and children's products sold in the state. Already passed by the senate, next month's approval S. 2293 by the Massachusetts House of Representatives would bring to 14 the number of U.S. states/districts with laws banning these products.

Others with laws in effect include: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C. (see below).


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A move to create a national standard is also moving forward. Earlier this year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission agreed to prepare "a briefing package" on California's furniture flammability standard TB-117 — a first step in what could become its adoption as a national standard. TB 117 eliminates the previously required open flame test and relies on tests to evaluate the cigarette ignition resistance of upholstery cover fabrics, barrier materials and filling materials. The smolder tests must be passed without the use of flame retardant chemicals.

The push to make TB-117 a national furniture flammability standard has received support by a number of groups including: the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, North American Home Furnishings Association, the International Association of Firefighters, the American Fiber Producers Association, National Cotton Council of America, National Council of Textile Organizations, Polyurethane Foam Association and the Upholstered Furniture Action Council.

An update from CPSC Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle on the agency adopting TB 117-2013 as a national flammability standard will be given during AHFA's 2016 Regulatory Summit on Sept. 15.

List of states & products banned
(Source: Flame Retardants, a Guide to Current State Regulations, by Michelle Corrigan, Stinson Leonard Street)

California – bans products containing more than 1/10 of 1% of the flame retardants pentaDBE or octaBDE by mass, and requires that products sold within the state warn whether they contain any added flame retardants.
Hawaii - bans products containing more than 0.1% of the flame retardants pentaDBE or octaBDE.
Illinois - bans products containing more than 1/10 of 1% of the flame retardants pentaDBE or octaBDE, and restricts the use of decaBDE.
Maine – bans products containing added brominated flame retardants.
Maryland – a) bans the sale of mattresses, residential upholstered furniture and electronic equipment containing decaBDE, b) bans the sale of all products containing flame retardants pentaBDE and octaBDE, and c) bans TDCPP and TCEP from children's products sold in the state.
Michigan - bans products containing more than 1/10 of 1% of flame retardant pentaDBE.
Minnesota - bans products containing flame retardants pentaDBE or octaBDE, and bans other specific flame retardants from children's products, mattresses and residential upholstered furniture.
New York – a) prohibits the use of pentaDBE and octoBDE in any consumer product, b) bans the sale of children's products containing TCEP, and c) bans TDCPP in children's products marketed for children three years of age and younger.
Oregon – bans products containing pentaDBE, octaBDE or decaBDE.
Rhode Island – restricts the manufacturing and distribution of products containing pentaBDE or octaBDE.
Vermont – a) bans flame retardants octaBDE and pentaBDE from all products, b) bans the sale of mattresses and furniture containing decaBDE, and c) bans TCEP and TDCPP from children's products and furniture.
Washington – ESHB 2545 mandates that after July 1, 2017, no children's products containing more than 1,000 ppm of TDCC, TCEP, decaBDE, HBCD and tetrabromobisphenol (TBBPA) may be sold within the state. (Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act)
Washington D.C. –  the Carcinogenic Flame Retardant Prohibition Amendment Act (B21-143), prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of children's products containing TDCPP and TCEP at concentrations above 0.1% by mass in the district after January 1, 2018.
** If passed, Massachusetts' Act would prohibit (as of January 1, 2017) the sale of upholstered furniture and children's products that contain more than 1,000 ppm of the following substances: 1) tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP), 2) tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP), 3) decabromodiphenyl either (decaBDE), 4) antimony trioxide, 5) hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), 6) bis (2-ethylhexyl)-3,4,5,6- tetrabromophthalate (TBPH), 7) 2-ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5- tetrabromobenzoate (TBB), 8) chlorinated paraffin, 9) tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCPP), 10) pentaBDE, and 11) octaBDE (and potentially other PBDEs).



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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]