SAFEGUARDS | Consumer Products NO. 069/16

SafeGuardS Residential Furniture

The District of Columbia (D.C.) in the United States (US) has recently approved measures to restrict the use of two phosphorus-containing flame retardants in products.  The new law will be implemented in two phases starting January 1, 2018.

In 2011, Washington, D.C. enacted the ‘Human and Health Protection Act of 2010 [1] (D.C. Law 18-336; D.C. Official Code § 8-108.01 et seq.)’ prohibiting the use of three technical mixtures of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The same law restricted, bisphenol A (BPA) and perchloroethylene in some products, but these chemicals are not flame retardants. The three PBDEs are:

  • Pentabromodiphenyl ether (Penta-BDE)

  • Octabromodiphenyl ether (Octa-BDE)

  • Decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca-BDE)   

On March 17, 2016, the Mayor of D.C. signed B21-143 ‘Carcinogenic Flame Retardant Prohibition Amendment Act of 2016’ into law. [2] The new law, D.C. Act 21-336 [3], restricts the use of tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP) and tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) in all products. The effective date is dependent on product category and will start on January 1, 2018.

The new law has a number of exemptions, including

  • Products that were purchased or acquired before March 1, 2016.

  • Motor vehicles or their replacement parts or replacement equipment

  • Desktop and laptop computers, audio and video equipment, calculators, wireless telephones, game consoles, handheld devices incorporating a screen that are used to access interactive software and their associated peripherals, and cables, adaptors, and other similar connecting devices

  • Storage media such as compact discs for interactive software

The new law authorizes the Mayor to request a Certificate of Compliance (COC) from manufacturers demonstrating compliance with this Act. This COC must be provided within 45 days upon request.

According to the laws of D.C., the approved measure will be subject to a 30-day review by Congress and publication in the District of Columbia Register before becoming law.

Washington, D.C. now joins a number of jurisdictions across the US in regulating phosphorus-containing flame retardants in consumer products, including the Federal Government [4], Maryland [5], Minnesota [6], New York [7] and Vermont [8]

Highlights of this new law are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1 D.C. Act 21-336 amending the Human and Environmental Health Protection Act of 2010 ‘Carcinogenic Flame Retardant Prohibition Amendment Act of 2016’

Substance Scope Requirement Effective Date
  • TCEP
  • Consumer products for children under 12 years of age
  • Upholstered furniture
≤ 0.1% each January 1, 2018
  • Other Consumer Products
≤ 0.1% each January 1, 2019

Throughout our global network of laboratories, we are able to provide a range of services, including analytical testing and consultancy for flame retardants in consumer products for the US and international markets. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

For enquiries, please contact:

Hing Wo Tsang
Global Hardlines
t: +852 2774 7420

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