News Brief

Healthcare Giants Boycott Furniture Containing Flame Retardants

Sixteen major buyers, including tech firms, retailers, and U.S. cities, have pledged to purchase furniture containing no chemical flame retardants.

January 8, 2015

Teknion has eliminated chemical flame retardants from all its products, including these Sabrina task chairs.

Photo: Teknion
Facebook, Kaiser Permanente, and Autodesk are among major buyers that have pledged to purchase furniture that contains no chemical flame retardants. HDR Architecture and Perkins+Will have also signed the pledge.

Initiated by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), the purchasers’ pledge currently represents $520 million in annual furniture purchases. The announcement follows on the heels of a similar pledge among large healthcare networks in four U.S states.

Avoiding flame retardants in certain furniture types is now feasible because of changes to California law, which formerly required the use of chemical flame retardants in upholstered furniture, effectively forcing the standards onto furniture manufacturers nationwide (see Flame Retardant Rules Result of Deception, Says Investigation).

The updated regulations require a different testing method and can now be met without use of toxic additives that were once ubiquitous.

HDR has also worked with CEH to publish a list of furniture suppliers that have totally eliminated flame retardants from their products as well as those that offer some products without these chemicals. According to the list, those that have eliminated flame retardants are:

  • Andreu World
  • Arcadia Contract
  • Bretford
  • David Edward Company
  • Global/GLOBALcare
  • Humanscale
  • Izzy+
  • Neutral Posture
  • OFS Brands
  • Teknion
  • Wieland

Though not listed by HDR, Ekla also makes commercial contract furniture containing no chemical flame retardants. Manufacturers that have removed the chemicals from certain product lines are Haworth, Herman Miller, Leland International/Freshcoast, and Martin Brattrud.

“Manufacturers of course can continue to use flame retardants if they choose,” notes Jean Hansen, sustainable interiors manager at HDR, “but many have said they are excited to move away from flame retardant use.”

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