Safer Sofas

Environmental Advocates Support this Bill

Explanation: 

This bill prohibits the use of ineffective and toxic chemical flame retardants in sofas and other residential furniture.

In recent years, the shiny veneer has been peeled off the flame-retardant industry, exposing the myths around their claims of fire safety. According to the National Bureau of Standards of the U.S. Department of Commerce, there is no significant difference in fire resistance between treated and untreated foams used in furniture. Chemical flame retardants not only do very little to prevent fires in residential furniture like sofas, they create toxic fumes that residents are always exposed to as the chemicals escape, entering the air we breathe every day. Children are especially vulnerable to these chemicals because they spend more time sitting and playing on the ground.

According to the award-winning Chicago Tribune series from 2012, “a typical American baby is born with the highest recorded concentrations of flame retardants among infants in the world.” These chemicals have been shown to disrupt hormones, cause neurological impairment, reduce fertility, and cause cancer. A 2017 Oregon State University study found a significant relationship between social behaviors among children, such as aggression, hyperactivity, inattention, and more, and their exposure to widely used flame retardants.

Since chemical flame retardants do not protect us from fires but can actually cause serious health problems, it is incumbent on the Legislature to pass this bill to eliminate their use while ensuring more effective fire safety. 

Summary: 

This bill amends Article 37 of the Environmental Conservation Law to prohibit the use of ineffective chemical flame-retardants in residential, upholstered furniture for sale beginning July 1, 2018. It also requires the development of an open flame flammability standard and requires that standard to be periodically reviewed for its effectiveness.

Memo #: 

19