Flame-retardant chemicals, previously added to carefully selected consumer products, are becoming ubiquitous.  Research by the American Chemical Society shows that the vast majority of sofas are now protected by flameretardants1.  At the same time, the number of flame-retardant substances being restricted or banned as harmful for human health has increased.

Although prohibited and beyond compliance periods, research by America’s Center for Environmental Health2, has identified TRIS flameretardants in children’s products and upholstered furniture. It has launched the first ever legal action against retailers selling products in violation of Proposition 65.

A number of US States have also introduced bills to restrict the use of certain flame-retardants in consumer products. Essentially, this legislation bans the use of flame-retardant from the TRIS family in children’s products and bans or restricts its use in upholstered furniture.


Fire safety is the aim, but comes at a price. Repeated scientific studies have shown that these chemicals continuously migrate from products to house dust, children and pets, according to the American Chemical Society. Manufacturers must comply with regulatory standards, but where there is discretion, balance the desire for fire safety with pragmatic introduction of chemical substances to consumer products. 


  • 1977

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission, announces the prohibition of flame-retardant tris-(2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate (TBDPP, also known as TRIS) in children’s clothing and apparel.

  • 1988

In January, California incorporated tris- (2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate (TBDPP, also known as TRIS) to its Proposition list of chemicals known by the state to be carcinogenic. Enforceable from January 1, 1989.

  • 1992

In April, California included tris-(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP, also known as TRIS) to its proposition list of chemicals known by the state to be carcinogenic. Enforceable from April 1, 1993.

  • 2011

In August, New York prohibits the flameretardant tris-(2-chloroethy) phosphate (TCEP, also known as TRIS) in toys and childcare articles for children under the age of three. Enforceable from December 1, 2013.

 In October 2011, California added flame-retardant plasticiser tris-(1,3- dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP, also known as TRIS or chlorinated-TRIS) to its Proposition 65 list of chemicals known by the state to be carcinogenic. Enforceable from October 28, 2012.

  • 2013

A further six states (Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington) have so far introduced proposals to restrict the use of TRIS flame-retardants in children’s products, upholstered furniture and consumer products3.


This legislative trend will bring more states into line with each other, but also presents a logistical challenge. New legislation is progressing at differing speeds in each state, so it is vital to keep up to date and ensure compliance in a timely fashion in every location. At present, proposed effective dates vary from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2015. Don’t get caught out.


With extensive experience in chemical and product testing our technical experts and toxicologists can help you to achieve compliance with the new and existing legislation for flame-retardants and other restricted substances, in the US and worldwide. Throughout our global network of testing laboratories we provide analytical testing and consultancy for consumer products, including toys, childcare articles and upholstered furniture.

  1. Novel and High Volume Use Flame Retardants in US Couches Reflective of the 2005 PentaBDE Phase Out
  2. CEH - Center for Environmental Health
  3. SGS SafeGuards No. 49/13 - US Legislation Updates Flame Retardants in Children’s Products and Furniture (PDF 471.21 KB)

For more information please contact your local SGS representative or our global team:

Hing Wo Tsang
Senior Technical Services Manager
SGS Hong Kong Ltd.
t +852 2774 7420