SACRAMENTO – California Governor Jerry Brown has asked state agencies to reduce the use of toxic flame retardants in upholstered furniture. The matter is before the state’s Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation for recommendations.

Furniture Flammability Standards Under California Review“Toxic flame retardants are found in everything from high chairs to couches and a growing body of evidence suggests that these chemicals harm human health and the environment,” Gov. Brown said in a statement on June 18. “We must find better ways to meet fire safety standards by reducing and eliminating—wherever possible—dangerous chemicals.”

The governor’s office said the current guidelines —Technical Bulletin 117 for flammability standards—will be updated following a process of public comment, administrative review and workshops. TB117 provides a minimum, mandatory standard for all residential, upholstered furniture sold in California and contains both open flame and smoldering cigarette tests.

A previous legislative attempt at amending the technical bulletin failed to pass the California Senate back in 2008. Assembly Bill 706 would have required that all seating, bedding and furniture products not contain brominated or chlorinated fire retardants, unless given a special exemption by the bureau.

The governor's announcment comes on the heels of a four-part series in the Chicago Tribune on the dangers of fire retardant chemicals.

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