Manufacturers of furniture and other household items such as textiles, mattresses and children’s products may have to stop using four commonly used flame-retardant chemicals in their manufacturing processes.
Minnesota legislators are considering a bill that would ban four flame-retardant chemicals in these products. If approved, it would be the nation’s most restrictive, the Minnesota Star Tribune reports.
Firefighters initially pushed for 10 chemicals to be banned, arguing that the chemicals do not effectively slow the spread of fire and contain toxins that are making firefighters sick. The director of the Marine & Environmental Research Institute and a professor at the State University of New York testified that these chemicals contain carcinogens and that exposure to them is increasing firefighters’ risk for developing aggressive cancers at an earlier age than the general population.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the American Chemistry Council and the North American Flame Retardant Alliance opposed the proposed ban, stating in testimony that it was too broad. The American Chemistry Council pointed to studies that show flame retardants do not make smoke more toxic, and that they slow the spread of fire by minutes.
The bill under consideration is a compromise between the opposing groups. It was passed by the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee and is expected to be approved by the full House and Senate.
A number of major corporations and government purchasers have pledged to preferentially purchase furniture made without toxic flame-retardant chemicals.
Photo Credit: armchair on fire via Shutterstock.