As furniture is becoming more environmentally friendly, the use of noxious flame retardant chemicals may no longer necessary, according to the chief of the California state agency.
The agency is responsible for introducing the rule that made these chemicals common in American furniture, according to the Chicago Tribune. Tonya Blood, chief of the California agency that regulates furniture, committed to scrapping that rule on Tuesday. She said she wants to replace it with fire-safety tests that will require furniture to resist a smoldering cigarette.
Most furniture is sufficient to meet a smolder standard, making it unnecessary to add chemicals to the foam underneath, according to Federal safety officials.
Furniture industry representatives who spoke to the Chicago Tribune agreed and said they are eager to see the change. However, the rule technically only applies to furniture sold in California. Many manufacturers still retain the right to add flame retardants to products sold nationwide.
"This standard provides protection while reducing reliance on toxic chemicals," Blood told lawmakers in the California Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials.
Research has shown that the addition of these chemicals to our furniture puts children and pregnant women at risk. Flame retardant chemicals have been shown to increase exponentially in the bodies of Americans.
Some flame retardants have been linked to cancer, neurological deficits, developmental problems and impaired fertility. They migrate out of products into dust, wind up in the bodies of people and animals and linger in the environment for years.
Firefighters explained how their on-the-job exposure to flame retardants put them at risk for rare cancers normally found in chemical workers.
Blood's public commitment to major change comes a week after California Gov. Jerry Brown called for an overhaul of the state's rule. Blood cautioned that it could take a year to move the changes through the state's administrative process.
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