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USA: California has passed the Bill AB-2998 restricting flame retardants in consumer products

September 2018- Relevant for: Hardlines, Softlines, toys and children's products

The USA State of California has recently passed the Assembly Bill AB-29981 restricting use of flame retardant chemicals on new juvenile products, upholstered furniture, mattresses and on the components used on such new products or used as replacement components.

The bill has been passed in Assembly and Senate with majority of votes and will become effective from January 1, 2020.

This bill requires:

  • a person, including manufacturer, shall not sell or distribute in commerce the new juvenile products, mattresses, or upholstered furniture that contains, or a constituent component of which contains, ‘covered flame retardant chemicals’ at levels above 1,000 ppm.
  • a custom upholsterer shall not repair, reupholster, recover, restore, or renew upholstered furniture or reupholstered furniture using replacement components that contain ‘covered flame retardant chemicals’ at levels above 1,000 ppm.

Examples of affected products:

A. Juvenile product and its constituent components,

  • bassinet
  • booster seat
  • changing pad
  • floor playmat
  • highchair
  • highchair pad
  • infant bouncer
  • infant carrier
  • infant seat
  • infant swing
  • infant walker
  • nursing pad
  • nursing pillow
  • playpen side pad
  • playard
  • portable hook-on chair
  • stroller
  • children’s nap mat.

B. Mattresses and its constituent components,
C. Upholstered furniture and its constituent components,
D. ‘Reupholstered furniture’ whose original fabric, padding, decking, barrier material, foam, or other resilient filling has been replaced by a custom upholsterer.

Following products and components are excluded from the requirements of this bill:

  • Electronic components of juvenile products, mattresses, reupholstered furniture, upholstered furniture, or any associated casing for those electronic components.
  • Components of upholstered or reupholstered furniture those are not identified in Technical Bulletin 117-20132 .
  • Thread or fibre when used for stitching mattress components together.
  • Components of adult mattresses other than foam.

“Covered flame retardant chemical” includes, but not limited to -

  • flame retardant chemicals appears on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) substance safety data sheet (SDS) in 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)3 as of January 1, 2019.
  • a halogenated, organophosphorus, organonitrogen, or nanoscale chemical.
  • a chemical defined as a “designated chemical” in Section 105440 of the Health and Safety Code4
  • flame retardant chemical included on the list of Chemicals of High Concern to Children in Section 173-334-130 of Title 173 of the Washington Administrative Code as of January 1, 20195.

Flame retardant chemicals migrate out of products over their lifetime and end up in household dust. Inhalation and ingestion of indoor dust is a common route of human exposure to flame retardant chemicals.
Flame retardant chemicals have several adverse effects on human health, animals and environment, such as-

  • many of the flame retardant chemicals are Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) which accumulate in our bodies and in the environment, persist in the environment for long periods of time, are capable of long-range transport, and are toxic to humans and animals.
  • certain flame retardant chemicals are associated with loss of IQ, attention problems, and other developmental problems in children.
  • when products burn in a fire, the presence of flame retardant chemicals can result in more toxic smoke containing carcinogenic dioxins and furans to which firefighters are exposed.

This Bill also requires the International Sleep Products Association to conduct survey of mattress producers and a survey report shall be submitted to the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings, and Thermal Insulation on or before January 31, 2020 and every three years thereafter.

[1] Assembly Bill AB-2998

[2] Business and Professions Code 19094(a)(1)

[3] 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)

[4] Health and Safety Code, Section 105440

[5] Washington Administrative Code173-334-130

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