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Chemical Flame Retardants

Flame retardant chemicals are used in many commercial and consumer products to meet flammability standards to minimize the risk of a fire from starting by decreasing the ability of materials to ignite and to limit the spread of fire.  A variety of chemicals with different properties and structures are used as flame retardants.  Some of the most widely used flame retardant chemicals include bromine, phosphorus, nitrogen and chlorine. Some inorganic compounds are also used as flame retardants, either alone or in combination with bromine, phosphorus or chlorine. Flame retardant chemicals can be generally classified as halogenated and non-halogenated flame retardants.

Flame Retardants may be present in plastic, textile and foam consumer products such as:

  • Baby products (such as nursing pillows, car seats, crib mattresses, baby carriers, strollers, and changing pads);
  • Upholstered furniture;
  • Carpets and draperies; and
  • Automotive interior textiles and plastics; and
  • Building insulation

If consumers want to learn more about flame retardants, there are a number of sources of information and assistance. A few are listed below:

Consumers can have a sample of polyurethane foam cushions tested for free by scientists at Duke University's Superfund Research Center. This is particularly useful for items already in use around the home.


NCDA&CS Structural Pest Control and Pesticide Division, Sleep Products Section
Mailing Address: 1090 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1090
Physical Address: 4400 Reedy Creek Rd , Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: (919) 733-3556 ; FAX: (919) 715-9023

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