Children's Products

CPSC Warns Consumers, Industry About Organohalogen Flame Retardants

U.S. CPSC Publishes Guidance Today After Voting to Begin Rulemaking to Ban These Flame Retardants Found in Children’s Products, Upholstered Furniture, Mattresses and Electronics Casings

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a Guidance Document on additive, non-polymeric organohalogen flame retardants as used in children’s product, upholstered furniture, mattresses and electronics casings.  The CPSC published this guidance to protect consumers and children from “the potential toxic effects of exposure to these chemicals.”

This CPSC Guidance to manufacturers, importers, distributors and consumers of these consumer products follows a CPSC vote, last week to begin rulemaking to ban these flame retardant chemicals in these products.

“The CPSC’s guidance sends a clear signal to consumers and to those who make and sell consumer products that these flame retardant chemicals could pose toxic effects to consumers, and to children and to pregnant women, specifically,” said Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and general counsel at Consumer Federation of America and co-counsel on the petition. “This Guidance is significant especially until a final rule is implemented by the CPSC that bans these chemicals from the four categories of consumer products”.

The CPSC recommends that “manufacturers of children’s products, upholstered furniture sold for use in residences, mattresses (and mattress pads, and plastic casings surrounding electronics refrain from intentionally adding non-polymeric, organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs) to their products.”

The CPSC also recommends that importers, distributors, and retailers, “before purchasing products for resale, obtain assurances from manufacturers that such products do not contain OFRs”.

Significantly, the Guidance also includes a recommendation to consumers, especially to those who are pregnant or those with young children, “to inquire and obtain assurances from retailers that such products do not contain OFRs.”

Non-polymeric, additive form, organohalogen flame retardants pose chronic hazards to consumers because of their physical, chemical and biological properties.  These hazards are well documented and include reproductive impairment, neurological impacts, endocrine disruption and interference with thyroid hormone action, genotoxicity, cancer and immune disorders.

The CPSC’s issuance of this Guidance, and their initiation of rulemaking was preceded by a petition that was filed by Consumer Federation of America, Earthjustice and ten other organizations, urging the CPSC to ban the use of this class of flame retardants in four categories of consumer products. The CPSC held two day-long public hearings on this petition in December of 2015 and in September of 2017. In both hearings, overwhelming scientific evidence was presented about the harms posed by these chemicals, the efficacy of a class-approach to regulating these chemicals, the migration of these chemicals into human beings. Legal arguments were also presented supporting the CPSC’s jurisdiction and clear authority to regulate this class of chemicals.

“We applaud the CPSC’s issuance of this Guidance. It is critical that those in the consumer product industry act to protect children and pregnant women from the hazards posed by these flame retardants. It is also critical that consumers exercise their market power and urge the producers and sellers of the products they buy not to use these chemicals,” stated Weintraub.

The complete text of CPSC’s guidance can be found here.

Contact: Rachel Weintraub (202) 904-4953

The Consumer Federation of America is a national organization of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.