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Tips for Reducing Exposures to Toxic Flame Retardants

Flame retardant chemicals linked to cancer, obesity, and other health problems are put in a wide variety of consumer products. For most products, there’s no way to know whether the product contains flame retardants because companies are not required to tell us the chemicals they use. As a result, it’s nearly impossible to avoid exposure even if you follow all the “right” tips.

But we can solve the problem! As our recent nap mat study shows, the only guaranteed way to avoid exposure is to remove the flame retardants from products. We need policymakers and companies to protect our health and stop the use of toxic flame retardants.

Until toxic flame retardants are taken out of consumer products, here are a few things you can do to reduce your family’s exposure to flame retardants:

  1. Ask policymakers to prohibit the use of toxic flame retardants in products. Right now the US Consumer Products Safety Commission is considering moving forward with a ban on a hazardous class of flame retardants called “organohalogens.” You can help by joining our campaign to convince policymakers and companies these chemicals have got to go!
  2. Demand companies eliminate toxic flame retardants from the products they make and sell.
  3. Avoid kids’ products made with polyurethane foam, like nap mats. For our nap mat replacement project, we tested mats from companies that said their mats were free of flame retardants. We were able to confirm in our testing that mats and cots from Community Playthings were free of flame retardants and another toxic chemical called phthalates (often used in vinyl, a typical material for mat covers).
  4. Check furniture labels. When shopping for furniture, consumers should CHOOSE furniture labeled “CONTAINS NO ADDED FLAME RETARDANTS.”
  5. Check kids’ product labels. Make sure any children’s products you or your childcare provider use are not labeled as meeting the California TB 117 flammability standard (these products likely contain flame retardants in the foam).
  6. Dust and wash hands regularly. To reduce exposure from products in your home, cleanliness counts! Wash hands, especially those of young children, often, to keep dust from attaching to food or fingers and being consumed. Regularly wet dust and wet mop to reduce dust and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.