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Fireproofing of domestic upholstered furniture: Migration of flame retardants and potential risks

Lounis, Mohammed, Leconte, Stéphane, Rousselle, Christophe, Belzunces, Luc P., Desauziers, Valérie, Lopez-Cuesta, José-Marie, Julien, Jean Mario, Guenot, Dominique, Bourgeois, Damien
Journal of hazardous materials 2019 v.366 pp. 556-562
flame retardants, foaming, foams, furniture, human health, polyurethanes, risk assessment, risk factors, surveys, sweat, synergists, France
Flame retardants (FRs) are widely incorporated in polyurethane foams to decrease their fire reaction. Currently, the risks associated with the use of FRs in domestic upholstered furniture (UF) are evaluated according to FRs volatility and potency to be emitted into the atmosphere. However, exposure via contact and dermal penetration, mediated by sweat, has not been considered so far. Our study provides an identification of the latest-generation of FRs most commonly used in UF, and an evaluation of their potency to migrate into artificial sweat. First of all, an extensive literature search, along with surveys with professionals, led to the identification of twenty-two FRs and synergists commonly used in France and Europe. Then, migration into artificial sweat of various FRs embedded into synthetic or commercially available polymer matrix was studied and evidenced. These results were analysed in the light of their potential effects on human health and the environment. Based on the migration’s data, it is not possible to clearly rule out potential effects of FRs on human and environment health. Therefore, the authors consider that the use of FRs in domestic upholstery does not seem to be justified due to potential risks and a lack of clear benefits.