Flame Retardant Furniture

May/24/2012 16:07PM
Write Comment
Please follow and like us:

The  history of flame retardant furniture is typical.

History of fire retardant use in the U.S.

Fire retardants were not used in furniture prior to the 1970s when polyurethane foam, which is highly flammable, became widely used for cushioning.

  • One of the first uses of fire retardants in consumer products was a chemical called
    1. Tris, introduced in children’s pajamas in 1975. Two scientists at UC Berkeley published an article in Science magazine on Jan. 7, 1977 demonstrating that Tris altered DNA and that it was being absorbed into the skin of babies from their pajamas. Such a public outcry ensued that three months to the day, April 7, 1977, Tris was banned for use in children’s pajamas. Subsequent research showed Tris to be carcinogenic as well.


  • During this time, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (
    1. CPSC) considered adopting a federal cigarette smoldering standard for furniture foam but chose not to, in favor of a Upholstered Furniture Action Council (UFAC) voluntary standard which tested how well a cover fabric resisted burning when a lit cigarette was put between the cushions of a chair.


  • In 1975, the California Bureau of Home Furnishings (BHFTI) passes
  1. Technical Bulletin 117: Separate components of furniture, including uncovered foam cushioning, must pass a 12 second open flame test. Applies to furniture only. For a discussion of the laws governing fire retardants in mattresses and textiles, please refer to those sections on this website

The governments were concerned about the numbers of people dying in fires. The tobacco industry was the primary blamee.

The governments, state and federal, worked with furniture manufacturers to develop a flame retardant product to cut down on fire deaths. 

Now comes the Chicago Tribune with an article saying flame retardant furniture contains lethal chemicals. Dick Durbin, who gets all of his ideas from the Tribune, sees this as an opportunity to get some more regulation enacted. We can always use more regulation. It will cost the furniture industry millions, you will pay more for furniture, and chemical workers will be laid off, but Durbin will get air time. 

If you want to read political blarney at it’s best, this is Durbin quoted in the Tribune. He recalled sitting on a sofa to give one of this grand kids a bottle. “It never crossed my mind that as I sat down on the couch and depressed that cushion on the couch, I was releasing a spray of toxic dust from the fire retardant chemicals,” Durbin said. As a result of the Tribune articles, ” I think about it all the time, ” Durbin says. 

What a pile of horse feathers. Durbin has no strong feelings about chemicals that prior government actions put into furniture. He is a classic grand stander. The perfect example of why Lugar is gone and many of the other carnival acts will be leaving in the fall. 

I just wonder when the Tribune will print a big expose saying we need CO2 in the air. That lack of carbon emissions are causing plants and trees to die all over the world. 

Remember, I’m old enough to remember when the Tribune wrote about global cooling in the 70″s.  

Please follow and like us:

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

Leave a Reply