Flame retardant articles

Flame retardants are used to delay or prevent a material from burning. Some flame retardants are hazardous to health and the environment and some are suspected endocrine disruptors.

Textiles and furniture in public environments, protective clothing, rubber cables, insulation materials as well as electrical and electronic equipment are examples of articles that can contain flame retardants. Flame retardants can leak when articles are manufactured, being used and when scrapped.

For example, flame retardants can leak out from a TV or computer when the device is used and becomes hot. Then, flame retardants end up in the surrounding air and collect in the dust. But it is good to know that the amount of the substance that releases into the air when the devices are used is so small that it should not pose a risk to health. Still, it is good to do what you can to reduce the total amount of chemical substances in your everyday life to prevent them from entering your body.

Advice for protecting health and the environment from flame retardants

  • If you have good ventilation in your home, the air will be cleaner and you will reduce the amount of substances in the air from the articles.
  • It is a good idea to air out from time to time.
  • Flame retardants can accumulate in dust. Therefore, remove dust from rooms where small children crawl and play frequently.

Many different types of flame retardants

Some flame retardants are hazardous to health and the environment and some are suspected endocrine disruptors. There are several hundred different flame retardants, of which about 70 contain bromine. The brominated flame retardants are the most controversial. Several of the most hazardous flame retardants are banned in, for example, electrical and electronic articles.

Brominated flame retardants remain in the natural environment for a long time, accumulate in organisms and are toxic. They can be transported long distances in the atmosphere. Flame retardants can enter our bodies, for example, through food, mainly when we eat fish.

Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) and decabromodiphenyl ether (DBDE) are on the Candidate List of especially hazardous substances. Substances on the Candidate List may be restricted or banned.

Read more here about electronic products and electronics

When you are in the store, ask what the article contains so that you can make an informed choice

Read more about brominated flame retardants on the Swedish National Food Agency’s websiteexternal link

Read more about flame retardants on the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency’s (MSB) websiteexternal link

Last published 26 February 2021