Avoid flame retardants

Healthy HouseTM CleanAir Tip

Flame retardant chemicals are used in commercial and consumer products like furniture, electronics, and building materials in order to meet flammability standards. The major uses of flame retardant chemicals by volume in the U.S. are electronics, building insulation, polyurethane foam, wire and cable.

Flame retardant chemicals can negatively impact indoor air quality and your health. Choose flame retardant free mattresses, sofas, chairs, etc. to reduce your exposure.

There are hundreds of different flame retardants. They are often broken into categories based on chemical structure and properties. In general, flame retardants are grouped based on whether they contain bromine, chlorine, phosphorus, nitrogen, metals, or boron.

Brominated flame retardants — Contain bromine and are the most abundantly used flame retardants. Used in many consumer goods, including electronics, furniture, building materials, etc. and have been linked to endocrine disruption among other effects.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s) —PBDEs do not chemically bind with the products to which they are added (furniture, electronics, etc.) so they easily release from these products and enter air and dust. PBDEs can lower birth weight/length of children, and impair neurological development.

Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) — Widely used to make computer circuit boards and electronics. Also used in some textiles and paper, or as an additive in other flame retardants.

Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) — An additive primarily used in polystyrene foam building materials. The primary risk to humans is from leaching out of products and getting into indoor dust. Low levels of HBCD have also been found in some food products.

Organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs) — With the phasing out of PBDEs, some OPFRs have been identified as replacements.


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