Almost all furniture in the West would seem to contain fire retardants. It difficult to understand the regulations/legislation on fire retardants in furniture because it is very complicated and they vary across the USA. However, California sets the standard (the wrong standard, some would say) and their legislation encourages the use of fire retardants across America because California is a very big market (11th largest GPD in the world) and manufacturers don’t want to create a range of furniture that complies with a particular place. It is financial unviable to do so. Therefore what California demands regarding fire retardants in furniture, the rest of the USA gets as well. The UK is no better, incidentally.
Note: California has decided to amend the law on fire retardants by removing the requirement to inject these chemicals into furniture and replacing the law with a flammability test that can be met without dangerous chemicals (law: TB 117-2013). I believe the new regulations take effect this year – 2014.
To simplify, fire retardants are nasty chemicals which can can be detrimental to cat health, in part, because cats often sleeps on furniture and can remain there for long periods, being exposed to chemicals seeping out. If you click on the link I cover this in more detail.
I suppose most cat owners won’t be overly concerned about fire retardants affecting their cat’s health because you can’t see any effects. There is little or no research on the matter. The potential health problem is perceived as not a major issue.
However, if a person looks after a cat and wants to buy some new furniture, I’d argue that it makes sense to, at least, investigate buying furniture that is free of fire retardants because if you like the furniture why not buy it instead of the usual chemical impregnated stuff?.
I’ll cut to the chase. Below is a list of furniture manufacturers in the USA who do not use toxic flame retardants in foam (most upholstered furniture is made using polyurethane foam treated with toxic flame retardant chemicals) or upholstery:
- EcoBalanza – website: “Modern Artisan Furniture – greener lifestyles”.
- Soaring Heart – Natural Bed Company – “new standard in organic luxury”.
- Furnature – “healthier furniture for a healthier you”.
- Bean Products – “Organic and whole health essentials for every day and every budget”
- EcoSelect Furniture “Non-Toxic/Chemical Free Furniture”. You can request non-fire retardant foam.
- Viesso Flame Retardant-Free Furniture – “eco-friendly designers” – see their video on what constitutes green furniture
Why not think about it? Just because your cat is healthy it does not necessarily that there aren’t potential future risks and remember that there are many idiopathic diseases (unknown causes). Are these chemicals partly to blame and chemicals in carpets etc.?