CFC SB 772 Fact Sheet: Toxic Flame Retardants and Fire Safety Alternatives
California is the only state in the nation that maintains a standard (TB 117) requiring the use of fire retardant chemicals in the polyurethane foam contained in juvenile products. A recent report by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission couldn’t find a single incident of death caused by children’s furniture that burned, and no evidence exists that in the 30 years since this law’s adoption that any measurable benefit in terms of actual fire protection – such as incidence or severity of fire or fire-related mortality or injury has been achieved.
The Facts: Toxic Flame Retardants and Fire Safety
• Children’s products such as strollers and changing pads do not pose a fire hazard. According the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there is no evidence that these toxic chemicals actually reduce fire deaths in California; they just slow them for an estimated six to twelve seconds.
• Fire deaths declined by 38% in California from 1980 to 1999; but the decline was similar or even greater in other states that don’t have standards leading to the use of these toxic chemicals. Considering that most victims of fires die from smoke inhalation and not the actual flames, alternative fire-fighting measures like smoke detectors and sprinkler systems have proven more effective.
Firefighters OPPOSE use of Toxic Flame Retardants
Chemical industry front groups have desperately tried to get firefighters to join their campaign. Their main strategy has been to get politically appointed fire and insurance commissioners on board. But the International Association of Firefighters, the organization which represents career firefighters in the U.S. and Canada, fully understands the risks posed by brominated flame retardants.
Firefighters in every state (and in Canada) where bills restricting PBDEs have been introduced have gone on record to support those restrictions. SB 772 represents a long overdue clean-up of short-sighted standards that should not have been written in the first place.
In fact, the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association has NEVER been sued by anyone, anywhere, because their “flame retardant free” products were associated with a fire hazard.
Everyone agrees we must protect people from fires, and do what we can to prevent them. Fortunately, we do not need to make the false choice between toxic chemical exposure and fire safety.