"Hand-Me-Down Hazard: Flame Retardants in Discarded Foam Products"

Prompted by a new California rule, manufacturers of polyurethane foam furniture are removing potentially toxic flame retardants from their new products. But the sale of old furniture in second-hand stores may put poor people at greater risk.

"On 1 January 2015 California implemented the first U.S. rule mandating that certain products containing polyurethane foam be labeled to identify whether they contain chemical flame retardants. Furniture industry experts predict flame-retardant-free couches, chairs, and other padded furnishings and products will be popular with consumers and large purchasers, and the new labeling law, known as SB 1019, is expected to have influence beyond the state’s borders, just as California’s flammability standard once drove the use of flame retardants in the rest of the country, and even other parts of the world. Crate and Barrel, IKEA, and La-Z-Boy are among the manufacturers that reportedly offer or will offer furniture with no added flame retardants. ...

However, the benefits may not apply equally to all populations; the ways that discarded furniture and other foam products are handled may disproportionately influence the flame retardant exposures and health of people in disadvantaged communities."

Kellyn S. Betts reports for Environmental Health Perspectives March 2015.

Source: EHP, 03/03/2015