It’s common knowledge that watching too much TV isn’t great for your health. But did you know that TVs could be bad for your health in a new and unexpected way? In a new study coauthored with Clean Production Action, we found that TVs continue to contain toxic flame retardants that can escape the TV and contaminate house dust in homes. Adults and children are then exposed to the chemicals when they ingest the dust during everyday activities, like hand-to-mouth activity.

The flame retardants tested for in the study are linked to a variety of health effects, including hormone disruption and cancer. Studies released earlier this year link higher levels of deca-BDE in the home with greater incidence of thyroid cancer.

Specifically, the testing found:

  • 11 of the 12 TVs contained flame retardants at concentrations of up to 33% of the weight of the plastic enclosure.
  • Eight of the TVs contained flame retardants of high concern.
  • Two of the TVs – one made by Element and one made by Samsung – contained the PBDE flame retardant deca-BDE, despite its being banned in five states. Those states are Washington, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, and Maryland. The TVs in the study were purchased in Washington.
  • Only one TV, made by Insignia, did not contain any of the flame retardants tested for.

See the company results.

This TV reality – that TVs contain toxic flame retardants that can contaminate homes – is one that policymakers, manufacturers, and retailers must change.

We’re calling for the following actions to reduce toxic flame retardants in TVs:

  • Policy action: states should restrict high-concern flame retardants in television enclosures and require manufacturers to assess and adopt safer alternatives.
  • Enforcement: states with laws banning the use of deca-BDE should immediately take action against companies selling televisions containing the chemical.
  • Right to Know: states should require companies to disclose chemicals of high concern in electronics, including televisions.
  • Companies can make safer products: manufacturers should adopt and make public comprehensive chemicals policies to ensure televisions they produce are free of high-concern flame retardants.
  • Retailers can act: retailers should adopt and make public comprehensive chemicals policies to ensure televisions they sell are free of high-concern flame retardants.

More Information:

Press Release

Results by company (PDF)

TV Manufacturers’ Chemical Policies (PDF)

Full Report (PDF)

Top Tips for Avoiding Toxic Flame Retardants at Home