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We’re learning more about flame retardant chemicals and want to share with you

What do you know about fireproofing chemicals? 

Household products that can contain flame retardants include: 

  • Older furniture cushions. 
  • Older breastfeeding pillows. 
  • Older diaper changing pads. 
  • Some car seats. 
  • Tents. 

For a long time, flame retardants—chemicals used to meet safety standards—were in a lot of things. While not all are worrisome for your health, some are. 

Flame-retardant standards have changed and are no longer used in certain products. 

Childrens’ toys, clothes and other products that sometimes contain toxic chemicals are often reused across families to save money. They are an environmental justice issue, and we want to understand what the community knows and thinks about these chemicals.

How to protect yourself

Flame retardants can collect in our household dust. Some toxins build up and can harm us through prolonged exposure. 

We know some key steps can help you and your family stay away from flame retardants.

  • Learn what products have them. Use Washington State Department of Ecology’s website to learn what products may have flame retardants.
  • Buy products without them. Read the flammability logo on upholstered products like couches and sofas for your home.
  • Reduce your exposure by vacuuming and dusting your home frequently. Flame retardants collect in household dustWash your hands after vacuuming or dusting. Use safe cleaning practices.

You are the best protector of your home and what comes into it!

Teens teach us

Health Department and Washington State Department of Ecology worked with teens like Andrea Juarez of Pierce County to identify fire retardants and the harm they can cause.

“These chemicals not only harm me, but they can also harm the wildlife in our environment here in the Puget Sound,” said Andrea. “And the negative impacts it has on the habitats because of pollution and these chemicals literally can get into anything.” 

As part of this work, teens interviewed adult family members to learn about their cleaning behaviors.

They asked questions like: 

  • Damp dusting or dry?
  • Do you read ingredient labels when shopping for cleaning products? 
  • Does your vacuum have a HEPA filter? 
  • How does how you clean differ from your parents?

Andrea expressed their desire to learn more about these chemicals and encouraged others to do the same. 

“It just further motivates me to want to know a bit more about this and get other people to know, too, because if you want to solve this problem it should be with other people not just yourself,” Andrea said. 

They also learned: 

  • How to improve the health of Puget Sound.
  • About safer choice cleaning products when shopping to avoid exposure to other toxic chemicals.
  • Where harmful chemicals are. 
  • How to reduce exposure in homes.

Want to learn more, just like these teens? Protect yourself by learning what products contain flame retardants. 

Visit our Healthy Homes page to learn how to reduce your exposure and protect yourself.