ECHA Wants to Restrict Flame Retardants in Childcare Items and Upholstered Home Furniture

The ECHA is recommending that the EU Commission strictly limit the use of flame retardants in polyurethane foams. According to the agency, the organophosphates TCEP, TCPP, and TDCP significantly increases the risk of cancer. That’s the conclusion of a screening report that the ECHA has posted on its Web site.

The chemicals are added to foams that are then used in the manufacture of baby mattresses, car seats for children, baby slings, and upholstered home furniture. The use of the materials in baby mattresses is particularly risky because of the large surface area and the relatively lengthy contact, which makes it easy for them to enter the body.

TCEP has been banned for quite some time, but it is still present in the products as a contaminant. Because TCPP and TDCP has similar properties, the ECHA included both in its study. Because TCPP and TDCP have not yet been included in the candidate list, the ECHA needed approval from the EU Commission to create a restriction dossier according to Annex XV of REACH.

In a conversation with Chemical Watch, the president of the European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC), Markus Wiesner, criticized the restriction proposal as too narrow. Instead of focusing only on upholstered furniture intended for home use, it should be expanded to cover all type of furniture and textiles, he said. Some time ago, the EFIC began a case against the special rules for flame retardants in the UK and Ireland, but no final decision has yet been made. He feels that these special regulations would hinder a
restriction across the whole of the EU and thereby torpedo consumer protection.

The EFIC and nine other industry associations in Europe have founded the Alliance for Flame Retardant-Free Furniture (FRFF). The EFIC itself represents about 130,000 small and midsize companies in 15 EU countries.

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