Do flame retardant concentrations change in dust after older upholstered furniture is replaced?

Kathryn M. Rodgers, Deborah Bennett, Rebecca Moran, Kristin Knox, Tasha Stoiber, Ranjit Gill, Thomas M. Young, Arlene Blum, Robin E. Dodson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Upholstered furniture has been a major source of chemical flame retardant (FR) exposures in US homes since the 1970s. FRs are a large group of chemicals, many of which are associated with adverse health effects, including cancer, reproductive toxicity, and neurotoxicity. California homes have some of the highest dust concentrations of FRs, due to Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117), California's outdated flammability standard for furniture foam that was generally followed across the US and Canada. In 2014, this standard was updated to a smolder standard for furniture fabric called TB117-2013, and it is no longer reliant on FRs. This update provided an opportunity to measure differences in FR dust levels in California homes before and after residents replaced older upholstered furniture, or its foam, with products that met the new standard and were expected to be FR-free. We collected dust from homes of participants who had plans to replace older upholstered furniture, or furniture foam, with FR-free options. We returned for follow-up dust collection six, 12, and 18 months following replacement. Concentrations of three polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (BDE-47, BDE-99, BDE-100), three chlorinated organophosphate ester FRs (tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP), tris(2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP), and tris(1,3-dichloroisopropyl) phosphate (TDCIPP)), and one aryl organophosphate ester FR triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), were widely detected in participant homes. All measured FRs decreased in nearly all homes after the older upholstered furniture was replaced. The decreases in FRs were significant in both homes that replaced entire pieces of furniture and those that replaced only the furniture foam. This study demonstrates that replacing older upholstered furniture or foam significantly reduces concentrations of a range of FRs in the home. Foam replacement offers a potentially more economic alternative that produces a lower volume of waste.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106513
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Exposure reduction
  • Flame retardants
  • Flammability standard
  • Furniture
  • House dust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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