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POLICY OVERVIEW

A variety of flammability standards for furniture exist in Europe. Some standards lead to the use of hazardous flame retardants chemicals without providing a demonstrated fire safety benefit.  

EXAMPLE 1

Currently, there is a patchwork of legislation for furniture flammability requirements in Europe, limiting the choice for European consumers to choose furniture free for toxins. 

POLICY

A variety of flammability standards for furniture exist in Europe. Some standards lead to the use of hazardous flame retardants chemicals without providing a demonstrated fire safety benefit. More effective and less harmful ways to achieve fire safety exist and need to be evaluated. EU-action in favour of flame retardant free furniture is necessary to ensure protection of human health and the environment, and promote competition and fire safety.

EXAMPLE 2:

EUROPE IS LAGGING BEHIND AS OTHER LEGISLATORS BAN FLAME RETARDANTS

The State of California has identified “many flame retardant chemicals as being known to, or strongly suspected of, adversely impacting human health or development.” In view of consumer protection, health and safety concerns, the State of California has updated its furniture flammability standard. Introducing TB117 2013 enabled the sale of furniture without added flame retardant chemicals and has maintained fire safety.


The State of Washington recently passed a bill banning the use of flame retardant chemicals on the Chemicals of High Concern to Children list (CHCC), including TCEP, TDCPP, HBCD, TBBPA and decaBDE, from use in residential furniture and children’s products, taking effect from 1 July 2016.


In many US states, proposals banning flame retardants in mattresses, furniture and children’s products are also being backed by fire fighters who are concerned with the carcinogenic properties of the proposed chemicals and claim that the substances are not as effective as suggested in slowing the spread of fire. 

European

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National

UK and Ireland... 

International

Europe is lagging behind as other legislators ban flame retardants. Read more about how the State of California has updated their furniture flammability standards. 

UK AND IRELAND

From bad to worse? United Kindom and Ireland has the most stringent flammability requirements for furniture. The UK recently evaluated their own regulations. "Furniture flame retardants can be associated with endocrine disruption, immunotoxicity, cancer, and/or reproductive and neurological impairments, lowered IQ, and hyperactivity. Flame retardants migrate out of furniture, settle in dust, and are ingested by humans and animals. Young children have the highest blood levels due to hand-to-mouth behaviour. In the USA, a majority of residential fire deaths result from inhalation of toxic gases, and soot and smoke can obscure escape".

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Impact Assessment, 2016 


SAFE FURNITURE

Flame retardants may cause serious harm to human health and the environment. That is why an alliance of firefighters, furniture producers, trade unions, and health, environment and cancer prevention organisations have come together to raise awareness about the risks associated with the exposure to these chemicals. The Alliance is strongly committed to end the use of flame retardants in furniture products and supports safer, alternative ways of minimising the risks for fire because long term exposure to hazardous chemicals poses a great threat to human health.  

The signatories of the policy paper share and stress the same concerns about the implications of FR chemicals in furniture products.  

Increasing evidence shows that EU action in favour of FR free furniture is necessary to ensure protection of human health and the environment, without reducing fire safety.