CPSC Bans a Large Class of Commonly-Used Flame Retardants
September 22, 2017
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted on September 20, 2017 to ban the use of any non-polymeric organohalogen flame retardants used in the following products:

  • Children’s products
  • Upholstered residential furniture
  • Mattresses
  • External casings of electronic devices

Non-polymeric organohalogen flame retardants are those flame retardants that contain halogens—either chlorine or bromine—and do not chemically bind to the polymer matrix to which they have been added, but are simply mixed in with the rest of the polymer.

This ban is not yet effective. The CPSC will first need to draft regulations under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) and convene a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) to review scientific data to assist with developing the future regulation. In the interim, the CPSC will immediately publish a Guidance Document in the Federal Register and advise manufacturers to shift away from using them.

The future of these regulations is uncertain, particularly since the composition of the CPSC may change after the term of one of the commissioners expires at the end of September 2017. It is possible that a future commission with different members may not move forward on passing regulations banning organohalogen flame retardants.

This decision came as a response to a petition filed in 2015 by a consortium of non-governmental agencies, which argued that organohalogen flame retardants should be addressed as a single class and banned due to their widespread human exposure and potential human health impacts. The petition included a list of 24 specific organohalogen flame retardants, which are listed in Table 1. A number of these flame retardants have either already been removed from production or addressed by other legislation. However, given that the ban covers “any organohalogen flame retardant,” it may cover flame retardants not included in this list.

How Can Exponent Help?

Exponent’s health scientists and materials engineers can assist you in determining whether your consumer products may contain these chemicals, how to substitute them, and how to monitor future production. In addition, Exponent’s fire protection specialists can assist you with meeting fire regulations in the absence of these specific flame retardants and environmental scientists can address any concerns that you may have regarding environmental releases of these chemicals.

Table 1. Organohalogen Flame Retardants listed in the 2015 Petition to the CPSC
 Flame Table 1

Sources: https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list, https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-evaulation-cyclic-aliphatic-bromide-cluster-hbcd