The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has published a list of companies that sell office furniture made without toxic flame retardant chemicals, based on its survey of major national furniture producers. The survey was conducted with support from HDR Architecture.
CEH has also released the names of major corporations and government purchasers who have signed the CEH Purchaser’s Pledge to purchase furniture preferentially made without these toxic chemicals. This movement by leading companies that collectively purchase more than $520 million of furniture annually continues the national trend towards safer products made without flame retardants, chemicals that are linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption, and other serious health problems.
“Businesses that want safer furniture welcome the movement to eliminate flame retardant chemicals by these responsible companies,” said Judy Levin of CEH. “Architecture and design firms, government purchasers, healthcare organizations, and other businesses know that buying flame retardant-free furniture is a smart business decision. The mood of the market is clear: it’s time for all furniture companies to end their use of toxic flame retardant chemicals.”
“At HDR, we are committed to reducing our own environmental impacts both through responsible practices for our clients and the communities they serve, as well as for ourselves as employee owners,” said Jean Hansen, Sustainable Interiors Manager at HDR. “We are excited about this pledge to purchase flame retardant free upholstered furniture, as our latest effort for safer, healthier environments.”
Flame retardant chemicals have not been found to improve fire safety in furniture, but they can leach out of products and contaminate workplaces. Studies have found toxic flame retardants in the bodies of virtually all Americans tested and in nearly all workplace environments tested.
This year, new California furniture flammability standards came into effect, allowing companies for the first time in 40 years easy ways to meet the state standard without the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals. But the new standard does not prohibit the use of chemical flame retardants.
In September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (S. 1019), co-sponsored by CEH, that will require labeling to inform consumers when furniture contains toxic flame retardant chemicals. The labeling rule is expected to go into effect for all furniture made for sale in California as of January 1, 2015; CEH expects many companies will include the labels on products sold nationwide.