Thursday, January 02, 2014

CALIFORNIA - Debate on Furniture Flame Retardants

"Calif. law change sparks debate over use of flame retardants in furniture" PBS Newshour 1/1/2014


HARI SREENIVASAN (Newshour):  One of the new regulations in California centers on the effort to limit the amount of flame retardants in furniture.  This is an issue of particular concern to parents of young children.

ADRIENNE CLEM, mother:  Oink, oink.

MAN:  Oink, oink.

MAN:  That's right.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Silicon Valley tech workers Adrienne and Jeremy Clem are the proud parents of 18-month-old Vivienne and expecting their second child next month.  They have spent a lot of time researching baby gear, and one of their main concerns was finding products without flame retardants, chemicals which slow the ignition of potentially flammable materials like textiles and plastics.

ADRIENNE CLEM:  This is a nursing pillow without flame retardants.  I did find it online just after doing a lot of searching.  I was very actually surprised that it was hard to find products without them.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Flame retardants were added to upholstered furniture and other household products starting in the mid-1970s to prevent house fires.  But what seemed like a good idea came with a downside.

A number of studies have linked flame retardants to human health concerns such as cancer, neurological impairments and fertility problems.  Some flame retardants have been banned by the federal government for health concerns.  Others have been phased out voluntarily by manufacturers.  But many remain in use today.

Worried about the possible health risks, the Clems recently purchased a $2,700 flame-retardant-free sofa from Ekla Home, one of the few manufacturers in the U.S. which makes naturally flame-resistant furniture using materials like wool.

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