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Toxic Flame Retardants

In less than a decade, Safer States and its partners have almost entirely eliminated the use of toxic flame retardants in furniture and baby products. Working hand-in-hand with state legislatures, firefighters, manufacturers, and media, we have cause a massive market shift that has reduced our exposures to these deadly chemicals.

40 current policies in 17 states
40 adopted policies in 13 states
  • Current Policies
  • Adopted Policies
  • Both

What Are They?

Flame Retardants are a class of chemicals added to furniture, electronics, and building materials intended to help prevent fires. Despite the claims of the chemical industry, many of them are unnecessary, don’t work well, and are poisonous. Flame Retardants have been shown to cause neurological damage, hormone disruption, and cancer. One of the biggest dangers of some flame retardants is that they bioaccumulate in humans, causing long-term chronic health problems as bodies contain higher and higher levels of these toxic chemicals.

Firefighters are at the forefront of advocating for their disuse due to high exposure to flame retardants and resultant health problems. The number one killer of firefighters is cancer due to chemical exposure faced in the line of duty.

We Eat Them

Since flame retardants aren’t chemically bound to products, they off-gas and settle on our food and bodies. Small children, especially susceptible to toxic health impacts, are exposed at particularly high rates as they explore with their hands and mouths.

We Drink Them

Flame retardants are persistent pollutants, which means they do not break down once released into an environment. They can travel far from the point of origin, allowing them to contaminate drinking water.

We Breathe Them

We all breathe dust everyday, and when that dust contains flame retardants, the chemicals enter our systems. During fires, flame retardants and their combustion byproducts are released causing toxic smoke clouds that poses health risks for firefighters.

What More is Needed

One of the biggest unsolved uses of flame retardants is in electronic casings, with some televisions containing 30% of flame retardants by weight! Safer States is working with scientists, legislatures, and television manufacturers to reformulate consumer electronics to reduce the use of flame retardants. In the building materials world, state codes must change to no longer require the use of flame retardants. In many cases, fire safety is attainable without chemicals. 

Federal agencies have a role to play too. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, lauded for issuing a guidance arguing against the usage of organohalogen flame retardants, must now make a rule to ensure these harmful chemicals are not used in our everyday products.

More Resources

Chicago Tribune Series

Bill Tracker for Toxic Flame Retardants

Current Policy

Adopted Policy