San Fancisco Chronicle - Chemicals in furniture hard to avoid

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November 28, 2012
By Stephanie M. Lee

Excerpt: Toxic flame retardants pervade the nation's households, especially California's, and little can be done to keep them out of our bodies, two new scientific studies find.

The studies, published Wednesday, arrive as state and federal lawmakers are pushing for stricter regulations on potentially hazardous chemicals that go into furniture, electronics and other products.

California has been a prominent force behind fire retardants because of a 1975 state law, the only one of its kind in the nation, which requires foam in furniture to withstand a 12-second open flame without catching on fire.

Gov. Jerry Brown now wants regulations to reduce the number of chemicals permitted in furniture, but experts say the law has already done damage nationwide. In a bow to California's powerhouse economy, they say, manufacturers saturated furniture with flame retardants.