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California Bill Would Require Labels On Furniture Containing Flame Retardants

Governor Brown expected to sign law passed by the state Legislature

by Cheryl Hogue
August 29, 2014

Furniture products sold in California would carry labels indicating whether they contain flame-retardant chemicals, under legislation Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. is expected to sign soon.

The bill “gives consumers what they have demanded for decades—the right to know what is in their furniture and the power to make an informed decision about whether to purchase it,” says bill sponsor state Sen. Mark Leno (D).

Companies that make fire-retardant chemicals fought the legislation, which this week passed the California Assembly 56-17 and the state Senate 29-5.

“The bill fails to inform consumers that furniture sold in the state may no longer be protected from open-flame sources, such as candles, lighters, and matches,” says a statement from the North American Flame Retardant Alliance. The group, part of the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry trade group, consists of flame-retardants manufacturers Albemarle, Chemtura, and ICL Industrial Products.

The bill adds to a move the Brown administration made last year. In February 2013, the state amended its fire standards so they no longer rely on an open-flame test for foam used in furniture. Instead, they require testing of upholstery fabrics, barriers, and fillings to resist ignition from smoldering cigarettes. The change means that furniture sold in California often no longer needs to contain fire retardants to meet the standard.

Manufacturers of flame retardants are asking a California court to block that new flammability standard.


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