Is Flame Retardant Toxic? | Komodo Fire Systems

Flame retardants have been used for decades to make products less flammable. They’re now found in all kinds of products, from home furnishings to baby equipment. But over the years, concern has mounted about the effects of these flame retardants on both human health and the environment. People have begun to ask… are flame retardants toxic? 

Sadly, recent years have seen the widespread use of flame retardants containing dangerous chemicals. Many people have been affected by the use of such flame retardants, and in some cases whole communities have been left feeling the effects of flame retardant use in their locality. As a result, some flame retardants have been slowly phased out, and are now no longer approved for use in a large number of different products. 

In this article, we’ll talk more about the toxicity of flame retardants, giving you the information you need to be able to protect your belongings from the threat of fire - without damaging your health or the environment you live in. 

Since the 1970s, hundreds of chemicals have been used to stop the spread of fire in a wide range of common household items and other products, with industry and emergency services hailing them as saving lives.

What is flame retardant? 

A flame retardant is a substance designed to limit the spread of fire, in order to prevent damage to buildings and their contents. 

Flame retardants are often applied to products during the manufacturing process, but it’s also possible to purchase your own flame retardants to add further protection to items you’ve bought. 

If you live in an area that’s particularly prone to events such as wildfires, it’s a good idea to invest in flame retardants to give your property an extra layer of protection. 

What are flame retardants usually made from?

Flame retardants can be made with a whole variety of different chemicals. Some flame retardants, such as our fire retardant sprays, are water-based, free of Polybrominated Diphenyl Esters and designed using non-toxic ingredients. However many fire retardants aren’t so environmentally friendly. 

Commonly used fire retardants include brominated flame retardants, OFRs, TBBPA, HBCD and OPFRs. These products often contain dangerous chemicals, which are toxic to humans, wildlife and plants. 

Brominated flame retardants are seen as particularly hazardous. The chemicals used in them are very similar to those that have long been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Chemicals found in brominated flame retardants present a serious risk, as over time they can become increasingly concentrated inside the body. Prolonged exposure to such chemicals can therefore cause serious health problems. Fire retardants like these are particularly dangerous for children and vulnerable adults. 

Why toxic flame retardants are a growing concern 

Exposure to the toxic chemicals found in some flame retardants can cause a number of different health problems. 

Flame retardants such as PBDEs have been linked to neurodevelopmental problems. Such chemicals can increase the risk of imparised cognition and the development of ADHD. Children exposed to these chemicals at a very young age are at particular risk. 

There is growing concern about the effects of exposure to toxic flame retardants on pregnant women. A study by the University of Berkeley and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that such chemicals can cause changes to the thyroid hormones of pregnant women, which could affect the development of the baby, along with the mother’s health during pregnancy. 

PBDEs are also found to affect the menstrual cycle, which could be damaging for young girls. Male reproductive problems as a result of prolonged exposure have also been reported. 

Other studies, such as the National Toxicology Program, found that some types of PBDE proved carcinogenic in animals. A similar study confirmed that exposure began to cause cancer in mice. 

Where can I buy non-toxic flame retardants?

The health effects of hazardous flame retardants are hugely concerning, but thankfully there are plenty of non-toxic, water-based flame retardants on the market. So you don’t have to avoid flame retardants completely in order to keep your family safe. 

While some flame retardants could cause more harm than good, the use of non-toxic flame retardants is highly recommended as it could make a huge difference if a fire ever approaches your home. 

Whether you’re concerned about wildfires or you’re simply looking to give your belongings a little added protection should a house fire ever occur, non-toxic flame retardants are a great way to do so. 

Take a look at our flame retardant sprays to learn more about safe and reliable options. Our water-based products have been designed to be eco-friendly and free of dangerous chemicals, so they’re recommended for use in and around the home. 

View the full range here. If you have any questions or need help don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.