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Senate to vote on the final version of a flame retardant chemical bill today

Cancer-causing flame retardants used in furniture
Cancer-causing flame retardants used in furniture Photo by Pool/Getty Images

The California Assembly Appropriations Committee approved SB 1019 and is sending it on to the Senate today, where it is expected to pass. This bill calls for labels that inform consumers when flame retardant chemicals are used in furniture. The anticipated effect of this is that the new labeling will extend to products sold nationwide and that ultimately many companies will eliminate flame retardants containing cancer-causing chemicals.

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) released survey results yesterday from major furniture makers showing that many companies are moving away from the toxic, ineffective chemicals. The survey found that leading business furniture companies have eliminated flame retardant chemicals from their products, and other major companies are in the process of eliminating these chemicals. CEH also released lists of companies who have agreed to eliminate all flame retardants from home furniture, baby products, children’s products and office products.

“It’s clear that the market for safer products made without these toxic chemicals is here,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “We applaud California for protecting consumers’ right to know when products are made with flame retardants. Smart companies know that by eliminating these harmful chemicals they can offer safer products that parents and businesses want for our homes and workplaces.”

According to the CEH, under new flammability rules the state adopted this year, furniture companies can make products that conform to state rules without these toxic chemicals, but the new state standard does not require companies to eliminate flame retardants. Until the labeling rule under SB 1019 comes into force on January 1, 2015, the CEH lists are the best source for consumers and institutional buyers to know when furniture is safer, without flame retardant chemicals. The draft bill was approved by the state Senate and now goes back to the Senate, to be approved as amended. California Governor Jerry Brown ordered the change to the state’s flammability standard in 2012 and CEH is urging him to sign SB1019 into law.