Southern California environment news and trends

Don't sit on your couch too long: California tackles flame retardants


California regulations call for applying a flame directly to an upholstered item to test its safety.

Okay, yes, you know on a certain level that sitting on a couch is bad for you. But scientists in the past several years have identified another reason.

Halogenated flame retardants are in the stuff of people who buy stuff, pretty much everywhere in the industrialized world — and a growing body of research has pointed to hormonal, reproductive, metabolic and thyroid impacts.

This past summer California Gov. Jerry Brown decided to do something about it.

Brown asked the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (it's part of the state's Department of Consumer Affairs) to reconsider the state's standards for flammability:

"Toxic flame retardants are found in everything from high chairs to couches and a growing body of evidence suggests that these chemicals harm human health and the environment,” said Governor Brown. “We must find better ways to meet fire safety standards by reducing and eliminating—wherever possible—dangerous chemicals."