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Two U.S. states ban flame retardants in furniture, San Francisco may do the same

by Cheryl Hogue
October 16, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 41

Photo of an upholstered couch.
Credit: Shutterstock
San Francisco may join Maine and Rhode Island in banning the sale of upholstered furniture containing flame retardants.

Rhode Island and Maine are halting the sale of new upholstered furniture containing flame retardants, and San Francisco may follow suit. Under legislation enacted earlier this month, Rhode Island is banning the sale of new furniture and bedding that contain organohalogen flame retardants as of July 1, 2019. Some organohalogen flame retardants have been linked to health problems, including cancer, reproductive and developmental effects, and hormone disruption, in animal studies. In August, Maine’s legislature overrode the governor’s veto and enacted a more sweeping ban than Rhode Island. That law, as of January 2018, prohibits the sale in Maine of new upholstered furniture containing any kind of flame retardant chemicals. Meanwhile, the city of San Francisco is considering a ban on flame retardants in upholstered furniture and children’s products such as nap mats. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission last month agreed to prohibit organohalogen flame retardants in infant and toddler items, residential furniture, mattresses and mattress pads, and outer casings on electronics. However, the agency has not started the official process for turning this plan into regulation.


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