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Furniture Flame Retardant Added to California Prop 65 List

Effective 7 July, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added pentabromodiphenyl ether mixture to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). This substance, whose production and use was voluntarily phased out in the United States around 2004, has been used as an additive flame retardant, especially for polyester foam commonly used in furniture.

Prop 65 does not ban or restrict the use of listed chemicals. Instead, beginning one year after a chemical is added to the Prop 65 list businesses are required to provide a “clear and reasonable” warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to that chemical unless they can show that the anticipated exposure level will not pose a significant risk of cancer or is significantly below levels observed to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. This warning can be given in several ways; e.g., labelling a consumer product. No such warning is required if exposure to a chemical occurs at or below any established safe harbour level.

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