Table: Summary of flame retardant uses, health effects, and highest levels reported

Health effects were obtained from the California Safer Consumer Products Candidate Chemical list, which includes health hazards and toxicological endpoints designated by authoritative lists in North America and Europe.[6]
Chemical uses include uses reported to U.S. regulatory agencies, obtained from US EPA’s CPCat (Chemical and Product Categories) database [7].
aWe compared levels found in our study to dust levels published in the last 10 years.
bThe primary flammability standard that led to the use of flame retardants in polyurethane foam changed as of Jan. 1, 2014 [8], so foam produced after this date may not contain added flame retardants.

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) Action Plan. 2009, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. DecaBDE Phase-out Initiative.  2012  [cited 2012 July 30, 2012]; Available from:
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Certain Polybrominated Diphenylethers; Significant New Use Rule and Test Rule. 2012, Federal Register.
  4. Covaci, A., et al., Novel brominated flame retardants: a review of their analysis, environmental fate and behaviour. Environ Int, 2011. 37(2): p. 532-56.
  5. EPA, Significant New Use Rules: Hexabromocyclododecane and 1,2,5,6,9,10-Hexabromocyclododecane, U.S.E.P. Agency, Editor. 2015: Washington, D.C.
  6. State of California, California Code of Regulations, in Division 4.5, Title 22, Chapter 55, 69502.2. 2013.
  7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CPCat: Chemical and Product Categories.
  8. State of California, Technical Bulletin 117-2013: Requirements, Test Procedure and Apparatus for Testing the Smolder Resistance of Materials Used in Upholstered Furniture, B.o.H.F.a.T.I. Department of Consumer Affairs, Editor. 2013: Sacramento, CA.

Reference: Dodson, R.E., K.M. Rodgers, G. Carey, J.G.C. Laurent, A. Covaci, G. Poma, G. Malarvannan, J.D. Spengler, R.A. Rudel, J. G. Allen. 2017. “Flame Re­tardant Chemicals in College Dormitories: Flammability Standards Influence Dust Concentrations.” Environmental Science & Technology. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b00429

Press Release: 

Related Research Area: