Identification of flame retardants in polyurethane foam collected from baby products.


With the phase-out of PentaBDE in 2004, alternative flame retardants are being used in polyurethane foam to meet flammability standards. However, insufficient information is available on the identity of the flame retardants currently in use. Baby products containing polyurethane foam must meet California state furniture flammability standards, which likely affects the use of flame retardants in baby products throughout the U.S. However, it is unclear which products contain flame retardants and at what concentrations. In this study we surveyed baby products containing polyurethane foam to investigate how often flame retardants were used in these products. Information on when the products were purchased and whether they contained a label indicating that the product meets requirements for a California flammability standard were recorded. When possible, we identified the flame retardants being used and their concentrations in the foam. Foam samples collected from 101 commonly used baby products were analyzed. Eighty samples contained an identifiable flame retardant additive, and all but one of these was either chlorinated or brominated. The most common flame retardant detected was tris(1,3-dichloroisopropyl) phosphate (TDCPP; detection frequency 36%), followed by components typically found in the Firemaster550 commercial mixture (detection frequency 17%). Five samples contained PBDE congeners commonly associated with PentaBDE, suggesting products with PentaBDE are still in-use. Two chlorinated organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs) not previously documented in the environment were also identified, one of which is commercially sold as V6 (detection frequency 15%) and contains tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) as an impurity. As an addition to this study, we used a portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer to estimate the bromine and chlorine content of the foam and investigate whether XRF is a useful method for predicting the presence of halogenated flame retardant additives in these products. A significant correlation was observed for bromine; however, there was no significant relationship observed for chlorine. To the authors knowledge, this is the first study to report on flame retardants in baby products. In addition, we have identified two chlorinated OPFRs not previously documented in the environment or in consumer products. Based on exposure estimates conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), we predict that infants may receive greater exposure to TDCPP from these products compared to the average child or adult from upholstered furniture, all of which are higher than acceptable daily intake levels of TDCPP set by the CPSC. Future studies are therefore warranted to specifically measure infants exposure to these flame retardants from intimate contact with these products and to determine if there are any associated health concerns.