Imagine you’re a new parent, shopping for an upholstered nursery rocking chair. Two options sit in front of you: one flame retardant, one not. As your brain summons visions of your child’s furniture bursting into flames, you instinctively move toward to the retardant choice — falling into the exact outdated trap that manufacturers want you to.
Although no one wants the chair or sofa they’re sitting in to explode into a fiery hellhole, the chemicals used to prevent such occurrences are horrifically toxic for one’s health. And now, San Francisco is the first city in the nation to ban them.
This week city supervisors unanimously approved a ban on both furniture and children’s items that have been treated with flame retardant chemicals, reports Bay City News. The legislation, introduced by Sup. Mark Farrell, was created in response to scientific evidence that chemicals used in such items have been proven to disrupt hormones, lower IQ, create attention problems, and cause cancer.
“We are taking a critical step forward here in protecting the health of all San Franciscans, especially children, pregnant women, and mothers, as well as our firefighters and first responders,” Farrell says.
The ban will apply to brick and mortar businesses and online retailers, in an effort to keep these harmful chemicals out of the homes — and nurseries — of city residents.
And the legislation couldn’t have come at a more poignant time, as ash from people’s businesses and houses in the North Bay coats San Francisco’s streets and congests its residents with toxic particulates.
Oddly, a ban on flame retardants used to be in effect. For forty years California adhered to such a law but dropped the requirement in 2013 — despite scientific findings that 29 percent of products still contained the harmful chemicals.