The debate over chemical flame retardants seems to be heating up. The Center for Environmental Health, which helped encourage a rewrite of California's regulations regarding safety standards in furniture manufacturing, announced last week that 16 major furniture manufacturers have now sworn off chemical flame retardants.
The companies, which include Facebook, Staples, Autodesk and Blue Cross Blue Sheild of Massachusetts, have pledged to stop buying furniture with chemical flame retardants in them. Several of the companies, like Staples and HDR Architecture, North America's second-largest architectural firm, are national brands.
Kaiser Permanente led the movement earlier this year with its pledge to stop buying furniture imbedded with flame retardant chemicals. Its announcement prompted a rebuke from the North America Flame Retardant Alliance (NAFRA) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The ACC has expressed its "concern" about the decision, stating that "flame retardants help save lives" and appealing for more discussion on the matter.
So far, however, the pull away from chemical flame retardants seems to be gaining speed, including by companies whose major markets aren't governed by California regulations. Aiding this movement are the studies that now dispute the assertion that the chemicals actually did save lives. Increased exposure to fumes by first responders who waded into house fires have helped to lay doubt to that claim. So do findings that indicate the toxins are being absorbed by people who use the flame retardant-laden furniture.
Manufacturers whose lines are 100 percent CFR-free
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.