SAFEGUARDS | Hardlines NO. 156/17

SafeGuardS Upholstered Furniture

Rhode Island has recently restricted the use of organohalogen flame retardants in residential upholstered furniture and bedding. The new restrictions will become effective on July 1, 2019.

In March 2017, we [1] informed you that Rhode Island and a number of states in the US had introduced proposals to regulate certain flame retardants in a wide variety of consumer products such as textiles, residential upholstered furniture and bedding.

On October 3, 2017, Rhode Island’s H5082 [2] (companion S166 [3]) automatically became law without the governor’s signature. The new law regulates the use of (all) organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs) in residential upholstered furniture or bedding. This family of flame retardants includes any chemical containing a carbon-bromine or carbon-chlorine bond (C-Br or C-Cl bond) that is added to a plastic, foam or textile material.

According to the new law, manufacturers of products that are prohibited from sale are required to notify persons or entities that sell these manufactured products about the new measures by April 2, 2019, before the ban becomes effective.

Rhode Island has restricted two flame retardants, pentabromodiphenyl ether (Penta-BDE or its technical mixture) and octabromodiphenyl ether (Octa-BDE or its technical mixture), in products since January 2007 (General Laws Title 23 Health and Safety § 23-13.4 ‘Hazardous Chemicals – Contamination of Breast Milk and Environment’ [4]). By bringing the organohalogen class of flame retardants under the scope of residential furniture and bedding, Rhode Island is strengthening its regulatory action on flame retardants in consumer products. Other US jurisdictions regulating flame retardants in consumer products include the federal government, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington DC.

Highlights of the new law in Rhode Island are summarized in the table below.

SB 166 (2017) Amending Chapter 23-26 of the General Laws
‘Bedding and Upholstered Furniture’
Effective Date
Organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs)
Residential upholstered furniture or bedding
≤ 100 ppm each OFR
July 1, 2019


Stakeholders are now advised to ensure their products comply with the latest requirements for flame retardants for Rhode Island and the US market.

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:

Hingwo Tsang
Global Information and Innovation Manager
t: +852 2774 7420

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