About Chemical Fire Retardants

Chemical fire retardants are used so that furniture can meet state and federal open-flame regulations. They originated with the best of intentions. California passed a law requiring furniture and other items be able to withstand ten seconds of open flame. 

While there are natural ways to meet these standards, most furniture companies started using chemical fire retardants. Unfortunately, since these changes, substantial scientific inquiry has shown these chemicals are bad for human health. Given that they are in our mattresses, some pillows, couches, some child pajamas, among other products, this is not to be taken lightly.

Chemical fire retardants can damage reproductive systems, and impact motor skills, learning, memory and behavior. Some have been linked to cancer[1]. Children and pets are especially vulnerable to the impacts of these chemicals, possibly because they are more likely to lick hands/paws as well as toys, etc. They also are bio-accumulative[2], meaning that they build up in the body, reaching toxic levels, rather than being excreted from the body.

These chemicals are often put into furniture using foam, which breaks down over time into dust and particles that end up on the floor. From there, they get kicked up and breathed in - which is another part of why children and pets are so vulnerable because unlike adults (with the exception of my dad) they spend a lot of time hanging out on the floor.

We recommend avoiding chemical fire retardants, and suggest a range of furniture free of them for our customers.


[1] Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/research/healthy-home-tips/tip-4-avoid-fire-retardants

[2] Green Science Policy Group. http://greensciencepolicy.org/topics/flame-retardants/