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CPSC seeks to remove dangerous flame retardants from furniture

Zoom  Zoom Issue Date:2012-07-19   Source:PUWORLD   Browse:728

The Consumer Product Safety Commission asked for special authority yesterday in a Senate subcommittee hearing to speed removal of dangerous flame retardants in upholstered furniture, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to investigate some of the flame retardants noted in a recent Tribune series that documented decades of rulemaking heavily guided by lobbying, rather than sound science.

At the center of the issue is a nearly three decades-old California rule known as Technical Bulletin 117, whose open flame test has required that producers of foam for furniture use of large amounts of flame retardant chemicals.

That rule has become a de facto national standard for many foam and furniture manufacturers. But reports over the past decade have shown toxic chemicals in flame retardants may cause neurological and reproductive damage, reduced fertility, and in firefighters, elevated rates of cancer.

Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown directed state agencies to revise TB 117.

Meanwhile, the California Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation has released a draft copy of TB 117-2012 with proposed requirements, test procedure and apparatus for testing smolder resistance of upholstered furniture. A smolder test would simulate a cigarette dropped on upholstery.

The bureau has scheduled a series of workshops later this month to discuss the rule.

The Tribune reported that EPA officials also told senators that the flame retardant issue illustrates several shortcomings of the Toxic Substances Control Act, such as allowing chemical companies to put their products on the market without proving they are safe.

Reform of the act is one of the issues outlined in the American Home Furnishings Alliance's current legislative and regulatory issues.

EPA officials said the agency will use its limited authority to target several flame retardants.


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