European Chemicals Agency Recommends Limiting The Use Of Flame Retardants In Polyurethane Foams

The agency published a screening report on its website that determined that exposure of infants to the above substances would cause cancer risk.

From December 13, 2017 to February 8, 2018, ECHA convened evidence that could support the establishment of restricted proposals and received 17 responses.

TCPP and TDCP are used as flame retardants in polyurethane foams for products such as baby mattresses, car seats, baby carriers and home upholstered furniture.

Although TCEP is not used in the European Union, ECHA stated that it may exist in other commercial flame retardant magazines or in imported items.

The three substances are considered as a group because they have similar uses and are similar in structure and toxicity.

Because of the large contact area and the long time, infant mattresses are considered to pose the greatest cancer risk to infants. At the same time, the risk of reproductive effects of TCEP and TCPP in mattresses has also been established.

The report pointed out that since infants often sleep in parents' beds, adult mattresses should also be included in the limited range.

ECHA now needs the formal requirements of the European Commission to begin preparations for a formal proposal for restrictions on REACH Annex XV.

Call for greater scope

The European Federation of Furniture Industry (EFIC) has submitted a submission in response to the ECHA's need for evidence collection.

In this document, Markus Wiesner, chairman of EFIC, said that the scope of the restriction should be more extensive and not limited to residential furniture foam. This is because the flame retardant is mainly applied to the public custom furniture in the whole EU.

He said: "In the furniture market segment, due to the open fire test, relevant regulations, purchasers, or government authorities usually require products made of flame-retardant chemicals."

EFIC also stated that textiles and polyurethane foam should also be limited.

EU-wide restrictions

Although the ECHA proposes to implement restrictive measures throughout the EU, the report stated that the United Kingdom and Ireland may be exempted or under certain conditions may be offered options not to participate in the ban.

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, flammability standards for home upholstered furniture and some child care articles require that flame retardants be used in the production process.

Other member states require only flame retardants to meet flammability standards for office furniture, contract markets, and certain products in the public market.

Mr. Wiesne said: "The measures taken at the national level will have hidden dangers for the safety of the entire EU consumer, and will also bring varying degrees of competition to the company and cause single-market trade barriers."

EFIC is a member of the Flame-retardant Furniture Alliance, which consists of 10 organizations that are active in the implementation of fire safety within the European Union while avoiding the use of flame retardants.

The Union submitted legal proceedings against the UK and Ireland fire safety regulations to the European Commission in 2016 on the grounds that they caused trade barriers in the single market trade. The committee informed Chemical Watch that it is still considering the lawsuit.

US response

More than a dozen states in the United States have already imposed restrictions on some types of flame retardants.

Maine prohibits the use of all flame retardants in upholstered furniture. Rhode Island prohibits the sale of bedding and furniture treated with organic halogen flame retardants.

The State of Washington's Non-Poisonous Children and Families Act limits the use of five flame retardants in children's products and residential upholstered furniture.

Nationally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted in favor of non-governmental organization petitions in September to ban the use of organic halogen flame retardants in furniture and other household product categories.

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