Work in Parliament The use of toxic flame retardants and their effects on health, fire toxicity, the environment and the internal market

Questions to the Commission and the Council | 20-05-2020

Question for written answer E-003135/2020 to the Commission
Rule 138
Maria da Graça Carvalho, José Manuel Fernandes, Álvaro Amaro

Toxic flame retardants are often used to treat foam and textile inserts for furniture and bedding in order to comply with the long-standing flammability requirements in force in some European countries, such as the UK and Ireland. According to studies by the Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture, these retardants do not effectively protect humans, animals or the environment.

Instead, they increase fire toxicity and asphyxiation risks and reduce visibility for firefighters. These flame retardants also reduce end-of-life recycling possibilities for the affected products. Considering that many non-toxic alternatives already exist, and in view of the reinforcement of the circular economy framework, it is important to ensure EU-wide action to harmonise flammability requirements to a level that renders toxic flame retardants redundant.

  • Is the Commission planning to review flammability requirements across the EU from a health, fire toxicity, environmental and competitiveness perspective?
  • Considering the health impacts of these materials, how will it deal with the use of unnecessary toxic flame retardants in the context of circular economy initiatives and improvements to the public procurement framework, including the strengthening of green public procurement goals?
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