Safer States allies working hand in hand with firefighters, state legislatures, community members, manufacturers and the media have caused a massive market shift to eliminate the use of toxic flame retardants in furniture and baby products. Ongoing work continues to eliminate the use of these toxic chemicals in electronics.
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 toxic.
We are exposed to toxic flame retardants through inhalation of dust particles containing these chemicals, ingestion of contaminated food and water, and direct contact with consumer products, textiles, and furniture that contain flame retardants.
Flame retardants have been linked to neurological damage, hormone disruption, and cancer. A significant concern is the bioaccumulation of certain flame retardants in humans, leading to persistent, chronic health issues as levels of these toxic substances increase within the body over time. Firefighters, who experience substantial exposure to flame retardants, are leading the charge to eliminate their use to combat associated health problems. Chemical exposure on duty makes cancer the leading cause of firefighter fatalities.
In 2021, New York became the first state in the nation to restrict organohalogen flame retardants in electronic casings, and the state of Washington is considering a similar ban under its Safer Products for Washington law. These actions parallel the European Union’s 2019 ban, effective in 2021. Additionally, retailers are also taking action. In 2022, Best Buy announced a restriction on organohalogen flame retardants in its exclusive brand televisions, making it the first major North American retailer to stop using these harmful chemicals in its private-label televisions.