You Can Help Get Toxic Fire Retardant Chemicals Out Of Consumer Products

You Can Help Get Toxic Fire Retardant Chemicals Out Of Consumer Products

January 13, 2023

By Sonya Lunder, Senior Analyst

Here’s how.

More than 97 percent of Americans – including children and pregnant woman – have harmful fire retardant chemicals in their bodies, according to the most recent biomonitoring study by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And families everywhere now have the opportunity to do something about it.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering a petition to ban all bromine- and chlorine-based fire retardants from four types of consumer products: children’s products, mattresses, furniture and electronic casings.

EWG strongly supports this petition and urges the agency to study alternatives to ensure that any fire retardant chemicals (also known as flame retardant chemicals) that go into consumer products are necessary and safe.

You can take action to keep more than 20 toxic fire retardant chemicals out of your home and away from your children. Sign the petition here.

For years companies have added fire retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ethers – PBDEs for short – to children’s products and home goods. The chemical industry claimed that these substances make products more fire-safe, but there is little, if any, evidence that this is true. Instead they’ve contaminated our bodies, food and environment.

Scientists raised questions about the toxicity and prevalence of PBDEs early in the 21st Century. These chemicals were phased out of consumer products beginning in the mid-2000s, but most replacement chemicals contain bromine or chlorine and appear to threaten human health, as did their predecessors.

The latest generation of fire retardant chemicals includes chlorinated tris (TDCPP), which California’s Proposition 65 categorizes as a chemical known to cause cancer, and Firemaster 550, which is associated with obesity, early onset of puberty and cardiovascular disease in laboratory animals.

The risk is greatest for children. In 2008 laboratory tests commissioned by EWG found that children had consistently higher exposures to fire retardant chemicals than their mothers, likely the result of in-utero exposure, breastfeeding and kids’ tendency to play on the ground and put non-food items in their mouths.

Last year, EWG researchers, working with Duke University scientists, examined moms and children for exposure to newer fire retardant chemicals and found higher levels in children than their mothers. Read more about the study.

What’s worse, recent research suggests that adding chemicals to foam furniture does not improve fire safety, making it a lose-lose proposition.

Help us get toxic fire retardant chemicals out of consumer products. Click here to sign the petition.