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Media Release

CEC publishes two reports on use of flame retardants in consumer products in North America

Studies aim to enhance risk management efforts on use of flame retardants 

Montreal, 23 December 2015—The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has issued two reports to enhance the capacity of governments, trade associations, and the manufacturing sector to assess risks from the use of emerging flame retardants in consumer products.

In recent years, public concern has grown over the use of flame retardants in products. The international and North American communities have recognized that flame retardants—chemical compounds that help prevent or delay combustion in items manufactured for indoor use—can nonetheless have detrimental effects on the environment and human health.

Expressing a common interest to better understand the issue, Canada, Mexico and the United States agreed to conduct a case study through the CEC. In partnership with Health Canada, Environment Canada, Mexico’s Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Semarnat), and the US Environment Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the CEC led a two-step analysis of the sources, uses and associated risk of flame retardants in products across North America.

An initial CEC report, Supply Chain Analysis of Select Flame Retardants Contained in Manufactured Items Used in Indoor Environment, identifies flame retardants of interest to the three countries. It provides supply chain information for 16 emerging flame retardants that have been developed as substitutes for older or restricted flame retardants.

Building on the results of that first study, a second CEC report looks at the presence of emerging flame retardants in office and household furniture from across North America.

Analysis of Select Flame Retardants Contained in Office and Household Furniture reveals the presence of at least one emerging flame retardant in nearly half of the 132 consumer products tested in the study. TCPP, which is principally found in the foam of chairs, ottomans and sofas, is the most frequently detected flame retardant.

It is hoped that the results of these studies will be used to enhance risk management efforts and the reduction of human and environmental exposure to flame retardant chemicals in North America.

To view or download the two reports, visit our Virtual Library at www.cec.org/library.

For more information on the CEC’s work on chemicals management in North America, visit www.cec.org/pollutants or contact Nathalie Daoust at ndaoust@cec.org.

Scientist holding an Erlenmeyer flask - consumer products - flame retardants

About the CEC

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was established in 1994 by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States through the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, a parallel environmental agreement to NAFTA. As of 2020, the CEC is recognized and maintained by the Environmental Cooperation Agreement, in parallel with the new Free Trade Agreement of North America. The CEC brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, Indigenous people, youth, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the business sector, to seek solutions to protect North America’s shared environment while supporting sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations

The CEC is governed and funded equally by the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Government of the United States of Mexico through the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, and the Government of the United States of America through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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