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What Flame Retardant Chemical Regulations Mean to You

“A new state study suggests the amount of flame retardants found in the breast milk of Northern California women declined significantly over about a decade, possibly as a result of a 2003 state ban on the toxic chemicals.”Read the full article by The Sacramento Bee.

While this is great news, it is certainly not the end of the story. There have been additional changes to the law, and it can be confusing. We break down what you need to know and what to ask when buying a new couch or other upholstered item.

The Law

The 2003 ban did not cover all potentially dangerous chemicals, only PBDEs.

Since January 1, 2014 companies are no longer required to use flame retardants to meet regulations, it does not ban anything new and companies may still choose to use flame retardant chemicals.

Since January 1, 2015 companies are required to use labeling that indicates if flame retardants are present. They must show you the label if you ask. However, there are no requirements for labeling on advertising or websites.

What This Means for the Products You’re Buying

With the exception of car seats, all juvenile products are now exempt from flammability testing, which means flame retardants do not need to be used. You should ask the retailer to be safe.

Most furniture foam manufacturers in the US have stopped adding flame retardants to foam, but you must ask to know for sure.

Furniture has a new standard for testing the flammability of fabrics. Certain fabrics are inherently resistant, but others are not resistant. This means that some furniture manufacturers will still be spraying on the flame retardant chemicals.

Mattresses still have a very strict flammability standard to meet. There are natural ways to meet it, but these may not be used. Crib mattresses shouldn’t have to meet this, but you won’t know for sure unless you ask.

What to Look For

For items made prior to 2015, you will see TB-117 (TB stands for Technical Bulletin). If you see this label, be very specific about what you ask to get accurate information. The wording is misleading – it is highly likely that flame retardant chemicals were used. Some manufacturers may have difficulty giving you definitive answers. We recommend erring on the side of caution. Here’s what you will see:





For items new as of 1/1/2015, you will see the new label that says TB 117-2013 (the law is SB 1019). This label will indicate whether or not flame retardants were used to meet requirements. Here’s what you will see:







The bottom line is, it is not safe to assume that flame retardant chemicals are no longer used. You have to ask.

Check out Sprout’s Como Pure Latex Glider, Joya Pure Latex Rocker, Opie Pure Latex Kid’s Chair, and organic crib mattresses. They have always been made with natural & organic components that are free from flame retardant chemicals.