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California SCP programme confirms flame retardant phase-out

Products - Crib © Elena Stepanova - Fotolia

Testing by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control has confirmed that children’s sleep products sold in the state "appear to be in compliance" with its Safer Consumer Products (SCP) regulations.

California designated children’s foam-padded sleeping products containing the flame retardants TDCPP and TCEP as its first ‘priority product’ under the SCP programme, effective in July 2017. And under the state’s regulations, manufacturers had either to stop using the targeted chemicals, or to begin an analysis to determine if safer alternatives exist.

The agency received no notifications from manufacturers indicating they were planning to conduct such an analysis by the September 2017 deadline. The state therefore began carrying out compliance checks to ensure that the covered products were free from those substances.

In a report released last week, Testing Children's Foam-Padded Sleeping Products in California: A Summary of Findings, the DTSC confirmed that none of the 21 products it tested contained TDCPP or TCEP at levels that indicated they were intentionally added.

Based on these findings, it said it believes the substances are being phased out of these products and that no further compliance activities are warranted at this time.

Further findings

The report indicated that, despite finding no significant levels of TDCPP or TCEP in any of the products it tested, other common flame retardants that the regulations do not cover did appear in products at levels near or above 1,000 parts per million (ppm).

This included:

  • the ‘Firemaster’ compound in a bassinet (1,160ppm) and a resting mat (57,852ppm);
  • a mixture of TCEP, TCPP and TDCPP in a foam pillow (914ppm); and
  • TCIPP in a cot (41,910ppm).

The testing further identified a product marked as meeting CertiPUR-US certification – an industry standard that certifies products have been tested and shown to be free of certain chemicals – which contained flame retardants not permitted under the scheme.

The DTSC also noted that testing revealed some manufacturers are using recycled foam in children’s products, which "may increase the probability that products may contain unknown flame retardants at high concentrations".

But the report said that the products with high flame retardants were manufactured in 2013-15, or had no manufacture date. And since none of those manufactured within the last two years contained flame retardants, "we believe this may indicate manufacturers have started phasing out or have ceased adding flame retardants to these types of children’s products," it said.

"Before DTSC listed children’s foam-padded sleeping products as a priority product, we suspected manufacturers were gradually phasing out the use of flame retardants in children’s products. It appears our regulations helped accelerate that trend," it added.

A California bill (AB 2998) was signed into law last autumn that will ban the use of all flame retardants above 1,000ppm in upholstered furniture and children’s products, effective in 2020. The statute directs a separate state agency – the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings, and Thermal Insulation (Bearhfti) – to conduct testing to ensure compliance.

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