TCPP (tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate) is a flame retardant commonly used in polyurethane foam in consumer products and in home insulation, and in electronics. It is used as an additive to polyurethane foam and is not chemically bound, and it escapes from products into the indoor environment.
TCPP escapes over time from the foam it’s used in, and contaminates indoor air and house dust. Kids and adults alike are exposed to the flame retardant when they breathe. Kids in particular are known to ingest house dust because of their tendency to put toys and their hands into their mouths.
TCPP is widely detected in household dust and indoor air as a result of consumer and home uses, and the compound and its breakdown product have been found in breast milk and urine. It has been found in wastewater treatment plant effluent, surface water, and drinking water, and was the flame retardant found at the highest concentrations in Arctic air. Laboratory tests indicate TCPP may impact nervous system development as well as thyroid hormone levels; its similarity to the cancer-causing TCEP and TDCPP also raises concern.
TCPP is currently under review by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Washington State Legislature passed a law in 2016 directing state agencies to assess the compound for possible restrictions.
Manufacturers should choose safer materials and chemicals, including materials that do not require chemical flame retardants to meet flammability standards.
You can reduce your exposure to TCPP and other flame retardants used in polyurethane foam by making sure furniture you purchase is labeled as free of flame retardants. Spray-in polyurethane foam insulation may also be a source of exposure, so if you are adding insulation look for alternatives without toxic flame retardants. Make sure any children’s products you or your childcare provider use are not labeled as meeting the California TB 117 flammability standard.