Maine Bans All Flame Retardants in Upholstered Furniture; U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Calls for Removal of Organohalogenated Flame Retardants in Consumer Products

Maine has banned all flame retardant chemicals in upholstered furniture despite Governor Paul LePage’s veto. According to the Act, “flame-retardant chemical” is defined as chemical compounds used to resist or inhibit the spread of fire and includes (but is not limited to) halogenated, phosphorus-based, nitrogen-based, and nanoscale chemicals. Any chemicals whose safety data sheets lists “flame retardant” is also considered a flame-retardant chemical under the Act.   

Beginning in 2019, upholstered furniture made with materials that contain more than 0.1% of a flame retardant chemical, or containing more than 0.1% of a mixture that is made with them, will be banned from sale in Maine. 

The banning of these flame retardant chemicals in upholstered furniture was heavily supported by firefighter groups who say that eliminating the use of these chemicals will reduce firefighter’s exposure to carcinogens. According to Chemical Watch, Gov. LePage voiced his concerns with banning the use of such chemicals saying the ban increases red tape for businesses, disrupts interstate commerce, and may increase costs and limit availability of furniture to customers. 

Similarly, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to ban organohalogenated flame retardants in several product categories including: 

  • children's products;
  • upholstered residential furniture;
  • mattresses; and
  • the external casings of electronics devices.

Click here to learn more about what exactly flame retardant chemicals are, why they are used in some classes of consumer products, and why blanket bans on such a diverse group of chemicals, such as the recent ban passed in Maine, is a bad idea when trying to protect consumers.