Any furniture stores and dealers doing business within San Francisco, including online stores, should be aware of a new law that is taking effect in the new year. Beginning January 1, 2019, the city of San Francisco will implement the first of two phases for Ordinance 211-17 that restricts flame retardants in upholstered furniture, reupholstered furniture and juvenile products aka “Covered Products”.

The second phase begins July 1, 2019 for “Covered Products” with electrical and electronic components. According to the San Francisco Department of the Environment Regulations SFE-18-01-FR: (“Covered Products”) that contain or are made with a flame retardant chemical at a level above 1,000 parts per million, and furniture reupholstered using soft material, including but not limited to fabric, padding, decking, barrier material, foam, and/or other resilient filling, that contains or is made with a flame retardant chemical at a level above 1,000 parts per million.”

In 1975, California adopted Technical Bulletin 117 (“TB 117”) that created flammability standards for the state. To meet TB 117’s open-flame standard, foam injected with flame retardant chemicals had been routinely used in upholstered furniture and certain juvenile products. 

Then in 2013, California updated the standards of TB 117 with TB117-2013. This update did not ban the use of flame retardant chemicals, however it does require a TB117-2013 tag on furniture to verify if the product does or does not contain flame retardants. Maine and Rhode Island were the first states to institute restrictions on fire retardants in upholstered furniture and this landmark ordinance makes San Francisco the first city in the United States to have a similar ban.

The restrictions are meant to reduce exposure to potentially toxic chemicals that may cause cancer or other health related issues. In 2011, a Duke University led study revealed that foam in 80% of 12 tested baby products contained toxic or potentially harmful flame retardant chemicals. A 2014 University of California, Berkeley study found flame retardants in the dust of 100% of the California early childhood education facilities studied. Indoor dust, via inhalation and indigestion, is a common way humans are exposed to these chemicals.

Also at risk of exposure are firefighters. According to a study by the UC Berkeley’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, female firefighters under the age of 50 in San Francisco have six times the national average of breast cancer compared with people not involved with the firefighter service. While it may seem like San Francisco is putting public health over public safety, use of proper flame-retardant fabrics, which do not emit toxic gases, are just as effective and safer (at this moment in time) than foam injected with fire retardant chemicals.

Rest assured, when working with MB Contract Furniture, we will follow compliance of all state and local codes.

For complete information on Ordinance 211-17 please visit click this link: 

For complete information on SFE-18-01-FR please click this link: