Flame Retardants: Toxicity in the Name of Safety

Flame Retardants: Toxicity in the Name of Safety

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Safety is an efficient factor. But typically issues we do within the identify of security create extra hazards. Flame retardants are meant to gradual the unfold of a hearth and permit for added escape time. They started for use extensively in every kind of merchandise within the Nineteen Seventies to fulfill flammability requirements set to extend public security. With rising consciousness of the well being dangers related to most of the chemical substances, some laws modified. But dangerous flame retardants are nonetheless all over the place, and so they actually shouldn’t be.

What Are Flame Retardants?

“Flame retardant” describes a chemical’s operate – to make a product much less flammable – however doesn’t say something concerning the chemical itself. Not all of them are well being considerations. But halogenated hearth retardants (HFRs), a broad class of flame retardants containing chlorine or bromine are on the Red List. They are persistent, bioaccumulative toxins with hostile results on neurological growth and copy. They could cause thyroid hormone disruption and potential liver toxicity. When burnt, they launch dioxins and furans, that are identified carcinogens. HFRs embody PBDE, TBBPA, HBCD, Deca-BDE, TCPP, TCEP, Dechlorane Plus, and others.

Which Products Contain Them?

Even although HFRs are on the Red List, and sure HFRs are banned, others will be present in a daunting number of merchandise. HFRs are present in insulation (nearly all foam insulations include HFRs), myriad different foam merchandise, tents, electronics, and fabric — together with in children’s car seats. Over time and with use, flame retardants launch into the mud and air. Inhaling and ingesting contaminated mud is probably the most common exposure pathway. Flame retardants escape into the surroundings with laundry water, the place wildlife will be uncovered lengthy after the chemical substances go away your private home.

Getting Rid of Flame Retardants

Some of the worst flame retardants are no longer used. Manufacturers voluntarily stopped producing two sorts of PBDEs (Penta-BDE and Octa-BDE) in 2004. After Washington state banned a 3rd PBDE (Deca-BDE), producers stopped producing, importing, and promoting it within the U.S. in 2012. For a long time, furnishings cushions used halogenated flame retardants to adjust to the 1975 California flammability normal TB 117. That normal was revised in 2014 in order that new furnishings has elevated hearth security with out the necessity for flame retardant chemical substances. However, it’s potential that these chemical substances are being utilized in different international locations and getting into the United States in completed merchandise. The security of most of the chemical substances which have changed HFRs is unknown.

Although it might not be potential to keep away from flame retardants fully, when transforming or constructing a brand new dwelling, search for safer building materials. Many merchandise manufactured earlier than 2014 that include halogenated flame retardants are nonetheless in use in folks’s properties. While reuse is often the most effective course for previous furnishings, replace the foam first to keep away from creating ongoing hazards in another person’s dwelling. Unfortunately, recycling options are limited at greatest for the previous foam. Landfilling is the most secure disposal choice as a result of burning or incineration can launch toxins into the air.

flame resistant label on furniture
There could possibly be poisonous flame retardants in your insulation, tent, electronics, upholstery, and quite a few different merchandise together with youngsters’s automotive seats and pajamas.

Avoiding Flame Retardants

Many merchandise not include any added flame retardant chemical substances. Read the flammability label rigorously when shopping for upholstered merchandise. Labels ought to determine any added chemical substances. Boron will not be an HFR and is an acceptable various for a lot of purposes. If you’ve got an older upholstered or foam-containing merchandise that you simply need to maintain, any U.S. resident can submit a pattern of polyurethane foam (PUF) for testing through the use of the submission kind on the Duke University website.

For many different product varieties, like insulation, there’s a wholesome choice of selections that don’t include dangerous flame retardants. When buying electronics, search for TCO certification to make sure that solely non-halogenated flame retardants reviewed by GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals are used.

HFRs are persistent chemical substances and had been extensively used previously. That means the mud in your own home most likely incorporates HFRs. Dust and vacuum regularly with a moist material and a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Wash your fingers after cleansing and earlier than consuming to keep away from ingesting the mud.

About Pajamas

Children could also be particularly vulnerable to the poisonous results of chemical substances as a result of their mind and different organs are nonetheless growing. Hand-to-mouth habits and proximity to the ground additionally improve their potential publicity to flame retardants. Researchers have confirmed that youngsters have increased concentrations than adults of flame retardants of their our bodies. However, the Code of Federal Regulations at 16 CFR Part 1615 for kids’s sleepwear sized 9 months to 6X, and 16 CFR Part 1616 for kids’s sleepwear sized 7 by 14 require youngsters’s sleepwear and loungewear to move flammability testing to self-extinguish if a flame from a candle, match, lighter, or an analogous merchandise causes it to catch hearth. Read labels rigorously, and take into account letting children sleep in snug garments as a substitute. Just you’ll want to improve your home fire safety protocols as nicely.