WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-6), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, applauded House passage of her legislation H.R. 2647, the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act (SOFFA). SOFFA would establish a national flammability standard, based on California’s Technical Bulletin 117-2013, and alter flammability testing for common household furniture. This change will result in improved public health and eliminates the need for a disincentive to use flame retardant chemicals, such as organohalogen and organophosphorus, which are associated with issues such as endocrine disruption, immunotoxicity reproductive toxicity, cancer, and adverse effects on fetal and child development.
“Flammability standards tests were designed to keep the American public safe, but unfortunately, for decades those tests had the opposite effect. By incentivizing furniture makers to use toxic flame-retardant chemicals in commonly used household furniture, families across the country were unnecessarily exposed to hazardous chemicals, and their carcinogenic byproducts have been associated with a higher rate of cancer in firefighters. If we are to protect consumers, we need to address this problem with urgency and action,” said Congresswoman Matsui, Sacramento’s voice in Congress. “When our country is looking to solve complex challenges, it should always look to California. The Golden State has already changed furniture flammability tests without compromising public health and safety, and it is time we take their lead. I thank my colleague Congressman Griffith for his partnership in ushering this bill through the Energy and Commerce Committee, and I applaud the full House of Representatives for unanimously approving my legislation.”
Specifically, SOFFA replaces an open flame test with a smolder test for furniture flammability testing, which California adopted in 2013. The results of that change show no new fire safety risks, while reducing the presence of flame retardants in home products and furniture – protecting consumers and firefighters alike from health impacts.
Flame retardant chemicals such as organohalogen and organophosphorus have been associated with issues such as endocrine disruption, immunotoxicity reproductive toxicity, cancer, and adverse effects on fetal and child development. They can also create toxic, carcinogenic byproducts if burned, which has been associated with higher rates of cancer in firefighters.
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