From our TVs to our automobiles, furniture and building materials, dangerous cancer-causing and brain-harming flame retardants are used in the name of fire safety when safer alternatives are available.
How did these harmful chemicals become a common additive to household products? A decades-long collaboration between the chemical and tobacco industries put these chemicals in a multitude of everyday products without regard for public health. The kicker? Fire safety experts say many uses of the chemicals aren’t that effective in slowing down fires.
Now, we are left with a legacy of ineffective toxic chemicals in our bodies, environment, and homes. While policymakers are beginning to take action to remove some of these chemicals from the market, it’s a never-ending battle as chemical makers keep producing new hazardous chemicals.
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. Learn more
EHTBB (tetrabromobenzoate) is a flame retardant used in polyurethane foam for furniture and children’s products, as the major component in the product known as Firemaster 550, as well as in electronics. EHTBB is mixed into rather than chemically bound to the foam, and can escape into the indoor and outdoor environment. Learn more
BEHTBP (bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate) is a flame retardant used in polyurethane foam for furniture and children’s products, as a component in the product known as Firemaster 550, and in wire and cable and other plastics. BEHTBP is mixed into rather than chemically bound to the foam and plastic, and can escape into the indoor and outdoor environment. Learn more
Triphenyl phospate (TPP or TPHP) is a flame retardant used in polyurethane foam for furniture and children’s products, as a component in the product known as Firemaster 550, and in electronics casings and other plastics. It is also used as a plasticizer and is used in other types of products, including nail polish. Learn more
V6, or 2,2-bis(chloromethyl)-propane-1,3-diyltetrakis(2-chloroethyl) bisphosphate, is a flame retardant commonly used in polyurethane foam in consumer products and automobile foam. Learn more
PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are industrial toxic chemicals, used for more than 30 years, to retard flame in consumer electronic plastics, furniture, and mattresses.
There are three common mixtures of these chemicals—penta, octa, and deca. Learn more
TCEP is flame retardant added to polyurethane foam and is found in furniture and baby products, as well as some plastics and carpet backing. In a 2002 study examining stream contaminants near industrial facilities, TCEP was one of the most common. Learn more
TDCPP was a flame retardant used in children’s pajamas in the 1970s until it was eliminated from that use due to adverse health effects. Now, TDCPP is a widely used flame retardant added to polyurethane foam in furniture and baby products. Learn more
To stop this revolving door of chemicals requires a new approach that requires government and companies to do better assessment before these chemicals are allowed on the market, and companies to innovate and address fire safety without toxic chemicals.