A lot has changed since I bought my flame retardant free couch two years ago. (Policy-wise, that is. My couch is still awesome.) America has made unprecedented improvements in embracing science over the garbage spewed by the $-motivated chemical industry, both via policy and changes made by manufacturers. I think it is safe to say that chemical flame retardants in upholstered furniture are on their way out.
First, California recently passed a law that requires furniture makers to indicate on the label whether chemical flame retardants are added as of Jan 1, 2015. You might remember that California started the whole chemical flame retardants in furniture trend with the TB 117 regulation, and that it became a national de facto standard because manufacturers didn’t want to make a separate product for California. Hopefully, this labeling requirement, which will make your couch shopping so much easier, will also effectively become a national standard. TB 117 was also modified in 2013 (label will read TB 117-2013) to allow foam furniture to pass the flammability standard without added chemicals; the presence of this label on furniture does not guarantee the absence of chemical flame retardants, but the new yes/no label will.
Additionally, many big name furniture manufacturers have announced that they are phasing out chemical flame retardants in some or all of their products:
- Room and Board : All sofas free of chemical flame retardants as of July, 2014
- Ikea : No chemical flame retardants used in manufacturing as of Jan. 1, 2015. 2014 stock will still contain FRs.
- Crate and Barrel : As of Jan. 1, 2015
- West Elm : As of Jan. 1, 2015
- Pottery Bard : As of Jan. 1, 2015
- Design Within Reach : select models
- The Futon Shop
- Scandinavian designs
- Ashley Furniture
- Ethan Allen
- Restoration Hardware
- Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Lastly, here you can find a list of companies selling flame retardant free office furniture.
When shopping for a new sofa or other upholstered furniture, don’t forget to check the labels and call the company to make sure no chemical flame retardants are present.
You can read more about chemical flame retardants and how to avoid ingesting them if you aren’t shopping for new furniture at the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group