How to avoid flame retardants

Did you know that many household products — upholstered furniture, mattresses and children’s products, especially those containing foam (such as changing table pads and car seats) — can contain toxic flame-retardants?

Once thought to slow the spread of fire, flame retardants have proven to be ineffective while also posing serious human health risks, including reproductive problems, learning delays and cancer.

Fortunately for families, Minnesota is working to stop the sale of products made with these chemicals. A recently passed law will ban four flame retardants from children’s products and upholstered furniture, staring in July 2018.

That’s good news for children, who are particularly susceptible to chemical exposure.

Many manufacturers, meanwhile, are already going flame-retardant-free by using alternative methods to meet stricter federal flammability standards, which can be met without adding chemicals.

If you want to see which brands and companies are ahead of the game (or behind), you can check out a new online report, Flame Retardants in Furniture, Foam, Floors: Leaders, Laggards and the Drive for Change, at tinyurl.com/safe-sofas.

While 90 percent of the largest furniture manufacturers have stopped using the chemicals in favor of safer alternatives, 54 percent of top mattress makers contacted are still using the chemicals.

When shopping for new home products, look for “flame-retardant free” labels. Avoid products with the words: "Meets California flammability standard TB 117." 

Learn more at tinyurl.com/fr-tips-mn.

Naturepedic mattresses, sold online and at Twin Cities stores such as Moss Envy and Pacifier, are free of flame retardants. Naturepedic’s No-Compromise Organic Cotton Classic Lightweight Dual Firmness Crib Mattress features a firmer infant side and a softer toddler side.