SB 147 Fact Sheet – The Consumer Choice Fire Protection Act

The Problem:

California’s furniture flammability requirement known as Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117) established by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI) has led to the annual use of millions of pounds of fire retardant chemicals in California furniture since the early 1980’s.  Halogenated fire retardants have been linked to endocrine disruption, neurological and developmental impairments, cancer, reduced IQ, learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity, infertility, and a host of other health disorders. 

These chemicals migrate from furniture foam into household dust, humans, pets, and the environment. A typical household can contain up to several pounds of these chemicals, and their extensive use to comply with TB 117 has led to contamination of the global environment.  

In February of 2010, the EPA issued recommendations for consumers to avoid products that are labeled as meeting California’s TB 117; however consumers in California do not have this option available to them.

Notably, use of these chemicals is unnecessary for effective fire safety. TB 117 is only one type of potential standard, and the current reliance on halogenated chemicals to meet the standard actually increases the risk of fire injury or death due to the significantly increased carbon monoxide and smoke that is produced when the chemicals burn.  Instead other, potentially more protective standards exist including one proposed by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). These alternative standards have the potential to reduce costs for manufacturers and consumers, improve fire safety, and eliminate a dangerous chemical pollutant that has proven negative public health impacts.

This bill will not incur additional costs to the Bureau because this Technical Bulletin is already being reviewed for possible amendment. In addition, this legislation has the potential to reduce costs for manufacturers for which the halogenated chemicals are a significant manufacturing cost.

This bill:
1.    Requires the Bureau, no later than March 1, 2013, to revise TB 117 to include an alternative standard that can be met without the use of chemical fire retardants.
2.    Requires the Bureau to consider the standard drafted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.