Relevant for: Electrical & electronics, Hardlines, Softlines, Toys and children's products
On 28 September 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a guidance document1 on the hazardous additive, non-polymeric organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs) in certain consumer products.
The four categories of consumer products specified in the guidance document are:
(1). durable infant or toddler products, children’s toys, child care articles or other children’s products (other than children’s car seats);
(2). upholstered furniture sold for use in residence;
(3). mattresses and mattress pads;
(4). plastic casing surrounding electronics.
To protect consumers and children from the potential toxic effects of exposure to OFRs, the CPSC recommends the manufacturers of these consumer products to eliminate the use of OFRs. Further, the CPSC recommends importers, distributors and retailers to obtain assurances from manufacturers that such products do not contain OFRs. The CPSC also recommends the consumers to inquire and obtain assurances from retailers that such products do not contain OFRs.
OFRs, as a class of chemicals, are always added to foams, textiles and polymers to improve their resistance to fire. According to the CPSC, it was demonstrated that OFRs used in non-polymeric, additive form, migrate from consumer products can lead to widespread human exposure to mixtures of these chemicals. Some adverse health effects of these chemicals to consumers are known, e.g. reproductive impairment, neurological impacts, genotoxicity, cancer, etc. Currently, the CPSC has not banned OFRs in household products or required precautionary labelling for such products.
Back to 2015, a coalition of consumer advocates and health professionals petitioned the CPSC2 to declare the four categories of consumer products containing OFRs to be “banned hazardous substances” under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). On 20 September 2017, CPSC voted 3 to 2 to grant this petition3. This triggers the rulemaking process under the FHSA. The CPSC staff will convene a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) to study the effects of these substances on consumers’ health and determine whether OFRs should be banned in the above consumer products in the USA.