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HBO documentary looks at FR chemicals in upholstery

NEW YORK — The issue of toxic chemicals in upholstery foam is the subject of a HBO documentary scheduled to air on Monday, Nov. 25, the New York Times reports.

In "Toxic Hot Seat," directors James Redford and Kirby Walker explore the health impact of the flame retardants that have been used in upholstery foam since Technical Bulletin 117, a California law, was adopted in 1975, requiring upholstery suppliers to include flame retardants.

TB 117 has been the subject of considerable debate following a 2012 investigative series in the Chicago Tribune. In "Playing with Fire," Tribune reporters Patricia Callahan, Michael Hawthorne and Sam Roe reported on the toxicity of flame retardants and on the chemical industry's campaign to promote the use of the retardants.

Currently, proposed modifications to TB 117 include testing foam with smoldering materials instead of an open flame, the testing model used since the flammability standard was enacted. The California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation released the proposed modifications to the flammability test in August and also included a later compliance date for manufacturers.

Click here to read Furniture/Today's latest update on the TB 117 changes.

In addition to the HBO documentary, the Center for Environmental Health released a report this week on the presence of flame retardants in children's furniture. That report can be read here.

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