Major Producers Eliminating Flame Retardant Chemicals as Major Buyers Are Demanding Flame Retardant-Free Furniture
Companies spending more than $520 million annually on furniture call on suppliers to offer safer products without flame retardant chemicals
Oakland, CA- The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) today published a list of companies that sell office furniture made without toxic flame retardant chemicals, based on its survey with HDR Architecture of major national furniture producers. CEH also released the names of major corporations and government purchasers who have signed the CEH Purchaser’s Pledge to preferentially purchase furniture made without these toxic chemicals. This movement by leading companies that collectively purchase more than $520 million of furniture annually continues the national trend towards safer products made without flame retardants, chemicals that are linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other serious health problems.
“Businesses who want safer furniture welcome the movement to eliminate flame retardant chemicals by these responsible companies,” said Judy Levin of CEH. “Architecture and design firms, government purchasers, healthcare organizations and other businesses know that buying flame retardant-free furniture is a smart business decision. The mood of the market is clear: it’s time for all furniture companies to end their use of toxic flame retardant chemicals.”
“At HDR, we are committed to reducing our own environmental impacts both through responsible practices for our clients and the communities they serve, as well as for ourselves as employee owners,” said Jean Hansen, Sustainable Interiors Manager at HDR. “We are excited about this pledge to purchase flame retardant free upholstered furniture, as our latest effort for safer, healthier environments.”
Flame retardant chemicals have not been found to improve fire safety in furniture, but they can leach out of products and contaminate workplaces and homes. Studies have found toxic flame retardants in the bodies of virtually all Americans tested and in nearly all workplace environments tested.
Among the signers of the CEH Purchaser’s Pledge are HDR Architecture (North America’s 2nd largest design firm, with 8,500 employees working in 200 locations worldwide), Facebook, Autodesk, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and San Francisco Department of the Environment among others. New Jersey’s Hackensack University Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente (one of the nation’s largest nonprofit healthcare systems, with 9.5 million members), and Dignity Health have also signed the CEH pledge, and several other large hospital systems also recently announced that they would preferentially purchase furniture made without flame retardants.
“The City and County of San Francisco has a long history of using our purchasing power to move the market toward safer alternatives, and we think it is critically important to identify products without harmful and unnecessary flame retardant chemicals,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment.
CEH is also partnering with HDR Architecture to track office furniture makers’ progress on eliminating flame retardant chemicals. HDR and CEH began surveying office furniture manufacturers in July 2014 and have identified companies that are producing some or all of their office furniture products without harmful flame-retardant chemicals. The survey found that leading business furniture companies including Teknion, Humanscale, Arcadia and David Edward have already eliminated flame retardant chemicals from their products, and other major companies including Herman Miller, Haworth, and Martin Brattrud are in the process of eliminating these chemicals.
This year, new California furniture flammability standards came into effect, allowing companies for the first time in 40 years easy ways to meet the state standard without the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals. But the new standard does not prohibit the use of chemical flame retardants. In September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (S. 1019), co-sponsored by CEH, that will require labeling to inform consumers when furniture contains toxic flame retardant chemicals. The labeling rule is expected to go into effect for all furniture made for sale in California as of January 1, 2015; CEH expects many companies will include the labels on products sold nationwide.
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is a national nonprofit committed to ending health threats from toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and in products we use every day. We protect children and families from harmful chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, and government to demand and support safer business practices. We also work with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.
Signers of the CEH Purchaser Pledge
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
City of Portland
Hackensack University Medical Center
Healthy Building Science
Perkins + Will
San Francisco Department of Environment
Office Furniture Companies Offering flame retardant-free products
Companies who have removed ALL FR chemicals from their Furniture
- Andreu World
- Arcadia Contract
- David Edward Company
- Global/ GLOBALcare:
- Neutral Posture
- OFS Brands
Companies who have removed FR chemicals from SOME of their products
- Herman Miller
- Leland International/Freshcoast
- Martin Brattrud