Key Agency Moves to Scrap Rules For Toxic Chemicals in Furniture
The chief of the California state agency responsible for the rule that made toxic flame retardant chemicals common in American furniture told lawmakers here Tuesday that she is committed to scrapping that rule and replacing it with fire-safety tests that can be met without the use of toxic chemicals.
Tonya Blood, chief of the California agency that regulates furniture, said the new test will require furniture to resist a smoldering cigarette. The existing standard requires the foam in furniture cushions to withstand a candlelike flame, even though candles are a far less common cause of fires.
Federal safety officials have said that the fabric covering most furniture is sufficient to meet a smolder standard, making it unnecessary to add chemicals to the foam underneath. Representatives from the furniture industry who testified Tuesday echoed that finding and said they are eager to see the change. While the rule technically governs furniture sold only in California, many manufacturers add flame retardants to products sold nationwide to address liability concerns and to avoid making two versions of the same product.
Blood also said she will work to exempt most baby products from the state's flammability standards; manufacturers have added flame retardants to many such products that contain polyurethane foam to meet California's rule.