Providence, Rhode Island – Rhode Island is the latest state to institute a ban on the use of certain organohalogen flame retardants in upholstered furniture and bedding. The ban is set to come into force in July 2019.
The law will regulate the use of any flame retardants that contain carbon–bromine or carbon–chlorine bonds and are added to foam, plastic or textiles. Penta-BDE and octa-BDE have already been restricted in the state since 2007.
The state joins a growing list that have introduced regulations restricting or banning flame retardants in consumer products. Laws are already in place in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington DC.
The Rhode Island law follows hot on the heels of an even wider ban that will soon be in place in Maine. After lobbying from environmentalists, and also firefighters who claimed they were experiencing elevated cancer rates, a bill was passed to prohibit the sale and distribution of residential upholstered furniture containing more than 0.1% of any flame retardant chemical or mixture of them.
The Republican governor of Maine, Paul LePage tried to veto the bill. ‘By prohibiting the use of all chemicals, this bill eliminates the ability for industry to innovatively develop substances used as flame retardants in furniture,’ LePage claimed. ‘Not only does this bill create additional red tape for businesses, but it could also lead to Maine consumers having to pay higher prices for furniture.’
His veto was overturned on a non-partisan basis by a large margin in the state legislature, and the ban will go into effect at the beginning of 2019. The state’s department of environmental protection is unhappy, citing budgetary pressures.
Maine is the first state to enact such a widespread ban. The only exceptions will be used furniture, any furniture bought for public use in public facilities that must meet the California TB133 rules, and new furniture that is already in stock at the retailer or wholesaler when the ban starts.
Various other jurisdictions are now also contemplating wide-ranging bans, including the city of San Francisco.