Tackling Toxic Flame Retardants

In 2013, nearly all upholstered furniture with polyurethane foam filling contained toxic flame retardants (FRs). FRs were also routinely added to baby articles like car seats, nursing pillows, toddler furniture, nap mats and foam pads for bassinets, changing tables, booster seats and other products. 

Building on the effort of individual organizations across the country, HBBF’s Bright Choices flame retardant campaign brought together disparate groups into a streamlined campaign and within five years, helped shift the furniture market away from FRs.  

The campaign uses public health and market campaigns, policy initiatives, media and emerging science demonstrating harm to human health from exposure to these chemicals in the home. That mix of strategies culminates in consumer demand, state policy and business leadership, which remove unnecessary chemical flame retardants from products. 

Father playing with baby on couch


We work in partnership with firefighters, scientists, parent groups, fire safety experts, manufacturers and advocates to demand toxic flame retardant (FR) free products and, having succeeded in transforming the furniture industry, are focusing on eliminating FRs from car seats and electronics so that families are protected no matter where they are. 

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  • Largely removed toxic FRs from the roughly $100 billion residential furniture market.

  • Shifted a substantial portion of the office furniture market to be free of toxic FRs and secured commitments from five states to purchase toxic FR free office furniture.

  • Passed policy in two states banning entire classes of flame retardant chemicals in furniture.

  • Passed regulatory standards allowing for fire safety without the use of FRs. 

  • Passed 33 policies in 13 states restricting the use of FRs.

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Children’s Products

  • Pressured car seat manufacturers to achieve fire safety without the use of toxic FRs resulting in the development of the first toxic FR free infant car seat.

  • Secured commitments from major retailers including Buy Buy Baby, Target and Wal-Mart to eliminate toxic FRs from children’s products on their store shelves. 

  • Passed state policy banning all organohalogen flame retardants in children’s products.

  • 95% of the nap mat market is now toxic FR free and most of the children’s foam product market is now toxic FR free.

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  • Conducted product testing showing high levels of flame retardants in many televisions.

  • Introduced state policy requiring TV manufacturers to report on the presence of toxic FRs. 

  • Secured a commitment from Best Buy, the #1 retailer of consumer electronics in America, to curtail the use of FRs both during the manufacturing process and in final products they sell.

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  • Prevented regressive federal and international regulatory standards which would have potentially jeopardized previous victories. 

  • Internationally banned two of the most toxic flame retardants in the Stockholm Convention. 

  • Secured a Consumer Product Safety Commission official guidance warning of the dangers of organohalogen flame retardants in furniture, children’s products, mattresses and electronics.

Phthalates Focus

As a partner of the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging, Healthy Babies Bright Futures participated in independent testing that found toxic chemical phthalates in 29 of 30 cheese products

An industrial chemical used to make plastic flexible, phthalates disrupt hormones and pose a serious threat to the health of pregnant women and children. Many studies have linked prenatal exposure to phthalates to abnormal development and functioning of the brain and reproductive system. While not deliberately added to the food, this chemical contaminates food that comes into contact with processing equipment and packaging materials. 

Our testing found phthalate levels were more than four times higher in macaroni and cheese powder samples than in hard blocks and other natural cheeses. With widespread news coverage of the findings, the Coalition is publicly calling on the Kraft Heinz Company, as the nation’s largest cheese maker, to commit to identifying the sources of phthalates entering their products and work to eliminate them. The Coalition is continuing to encourage Kraft to take action while advocating for broader change in the industry to protect people, and especially babies and children, from chemicals of concern in their food.

Learn More About #KleanUpKraft

Close up of macaroni and cheese