Furniture Flame Retardancy Partnership
The report, "Environmental Profiles of Chemical Flame-Retardant Alternatives for Low-Density Polyurethane Foam," is now available. This report contains a summary of the environmental and human health attributes of selected flame retardants as alternatives to pentabromodiphenyl ether (pentaBDE).
The Furniture Flame Retardancy Partnership is a joint venture between the Furniture Industry, Chemical Manufacturers, Environmental Groups and the Environmental Protection Agency to better understand fire safety options for the furniture industry.
The primary flame retardant historically used in low-density flexible polyurethane foam (pentabromodiphenyl ether - pentaBDE) was voluntarily phased out of production by the sole U.S. manufacturer on December 31, 2004. PentaBDE, with its ability to delay ignition of materials, has saved lives, but there are concerns over its use. Studies worldwide have found pentaBDE to be widespread in the environment and in human tissue and breast milk. More information is available on the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) webpage.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is also considering more stringent fire safety standards for residential furniture. These new standards could result in more flame retardants being used in furniture foam and fabric in the future.
The decisions the industry must make now on flame retardant alternatives offer a real opportunity to protect public health and the environment. Through the Furniture Flame Retardancy Partnership, EPA and its partners are working to identify and move toward environmentally safer approaches to meeting fire safety standards. The partnership's first objective has been to provide up-to-date toxicological and environmental information on flame retardants used in furniture foam so that furniture manufacturers and suppliers can make informed decisions about which chemicals to use. This work is captured in the partnership's report: "Environmental Profiles of Chemical Flame-Retardant Alternatives for Low-Density Polyurethane Foam," which focuses on flame retardants in furniture foam as alternatives to pentaBDE.
Next, the partnership plans to develop and implement a process to identify additional toxicological data needed for adequately assessing the flame-retardant alternatives reviewed in this report. In the future, the partnership intends to evaluate additional chemical flame retardants and other materials that may be necessary to meet planned national fire safety standards.
Find out more from our pamphlet, Environmentally Preferable Approaches for Achieving Furniture Fire Safety Standards.[2 p., 210 Kb PDF] For more information about the Furniture Flame Retardancy Partnership, contact DfE