Learn about flame retardants and if they're safe for Canadians.
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What are flame retardants?
Flame retardants are various types of chemicals that may be found in or applied to products. They're used to keep items from catching on fire and limiting the spread of fire.
Flame retardants may be found in:
- electronics, such as:
- textile products, such as:
- stuffed toys
- pillows and cushions
- upholstered furniture
- textile floor coverings
- plastic and rubber products
- 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 like vehicles and aircraft
Are flame retardants safe?
While most flame retardants are safe, some flame retardants can be harmful to your health. Canada has already taken action to limit exposure to certain flame retardants that pose health risks, including:
- TBPP, which has been banned from use in clothing and children's sleep wear
- TCEP, which has been banned from use in products made with polyurethane foam if intended for children
We're currently reviewing other flame retardants to determine if they pose a health risk to Canadians.
Recently, Canada completed draft reviews on the potential risk of 10 flame retardants. These scientific reviews are called chemical risk assessments. These identify health or safety concerns by looking at potentially harmful effects of the chemical and how people might be exposed.
One of the flame retardants reviewed, known as TCPP, is commonly used in mattresses and upholstered furniture. The draft assessment indicates that the use of TCPP in these products may pose a danger to the health of Canadians.
TCPP is also used in other products, such as spray foams. Human exposure from TCPP from these other products is not considered a health concern.
To address concerns with TCPP, we have put forward a proposal to limit its usage in upholstered furniture and mattresses.
On October 8, 2016, we published the:
- draft assessments for TCPP and 9 other flame retardants
- proposal to limit TCPP usage in upholstered furniture and mattresses
You're invited to provide feedback on these publications over a 60-day comment period, ending December 7, 2016.
Ongoing protective measures
Canada will continue to:
- review TCPP and the other flame retardants for health and environmental concerns
- develop plans to protect Canadians from harmful substances
All feedback received from the public comment period will be considered in our approach for addressing TCPP and other flame retardants.
If health concerns are confirmed during our final assessment, we will continue to take action to reduce your exposure to flame retardants.
How can you minimize your exposure to flame retardants?
If you're concerned, you can reduce your exposure to flame retardants in air, dust and soil by:
- washing your hands often
- dusting and vacuuming your home often to remove any flame retardant that may have settled on household surfaces
- replacing or repairing damaged covers on products that contain foam, such as upholstered furniture and mattresses
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