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Use of Flame Retardants Discouraged; Ban Could Follow

Thursday, September 28, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is recommending that importers, manufacturers, and others take specific actions to protect consumers from the potential toxic effects of exposure to additive, non-polymeric organohalogen flame retardants. This guidance is not a binding or enforceable rule but a ban on the use of OFRs in four categories of consumer goods could be imposed in the future.

OFRs are typically added to foams, textiles, and polymers before, during, or after production in an effort to improve their resistance to fire. According to the CPSC, scientific evidence demonstrates that OFRs used in non-polymeric, additive form migrate from consumer products, leading to widespread human exposure to mixtures of these chemicals, which pose a risk of a variety of adverse health effects.

In its new guidance, the CPSC encourages manufacturers to eliminate the use of OFRs in children’s products (e.g., durable infant or toddler products, toys, and child care articles), upholstered furniture sold for use in residences, mattresses (and mattress pads), and plastic casings surrounding electronics. The CPSC recommends that before purchasing such products for resale, importers, distributors, and retailers should obtain assurances from manufacturers that such products do not contain OFRs. The CPSC also recommends that consumers, especially those who are pregnant or with young children, inquire and obtain assurances from retailers that such products do not contain OFRs.

The CPSC has not yet banned OFRs in household products or required precautionary labeling for such products. However, the Commission did vote Sept. 20 to initiate a rulemaking that could lead to such a ban. The CPSC also directed its staff to convene a chronic hazard advisory panel to further study the effects of OFRs on consumer health.

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