Flame retardants

Learn about flame retardants and if they're safe.

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About flame retardants

Flame retardants are made up of various types of chemicals found in or applied to products. They're used to keep items from catching on fire and limit the spread of fire.

Flame retardants may be found in consumer products:

  • electronics, such as:
    • computers
    • appliances
  • textile products, such as:
    • tents
    • fabrics
    • clothing
    • bedding
    • textile floor coverings
  • polyurethane foam products, such as:
    • mattresses
    • stuffed toys
    • pillows and cushions
    • upholstered furniture
  • plastic and rubber products

They may also be found in:

  • construction and renovation products, such as:
    • paints and coatings
    • lubricants and grease
    • spray foam insulation
    • construction foam boards
    • waterproofing foam products
    • adhesives, glues and sealants
  • parts for motorized transportation, such as vehicles and aircraft

Safety of flame retardants

We assessed the potential health and environmental risks of a number of flame retardants through a chemical risk assessment. Most of these flame retardants are safe, but some can be harmful to your health.

Health effects from flame retardants vary among the different chemicals and may include:

  • developmental effects
  • effects on reproduction
  • increased risk of cancer

We also found that several flame retardants pose a risk to the environment.

Ongoing protective measures

Canada has taken action to limit exposure to certain flame retardants that pose health risks. Of note are:

  • TBPP
    • banned from clothing and children's sleep wear
  • TCEP
    • banned from products made with polyurethane foam if intended for children

We are now assessing other flame retardants to determine if they pose a health risk to Canadians.

Canada will continue to:

  • review flame retardants for health and environmental concerns
  • develop plans to protect Canadians from flame retardants that pose health risks
  • provide advice on how you can protect yourself from any identified health risks

Minimize your exposure to flame retardants

To minimize your exposure to or reduce your release of flame retardants in air, dust and soil:

  • wash your hands often
  • dust and vacuum your home often to remove flame retardant that may have settled on surfaces
  • replace or repair damaged covers on products that contain foam, such as upholstered furniture and mattresses
  • contact the manufacturer if you are not sure your product contains flame retardants
  • follow the manufacturer's directions for using, storing and disposing of the product safely
  • take toxic materials to your local hazardous waste disposal depot
    • if you don't know where yours is, check with your municipal government or waste facility

If you are exposed to flame retardants at work, talk to your employer and occupational health and safety (OHS) official about:

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