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Suing for Stronger Health Protections from the Toxic Flame Retardant Chemical DecaBDE

Sitting on a couch.

Studies show that the toxic flame retardant chemicals deliberately put into our couches, chairs and other furniture item did not increase fire safety, did not address the most common cause of furniture fires—and actually made fires more deadly.

Photo courtesy of Dave Morris

What’s at Stake

DecaBDE is highly toxic and linked to serious health effects including cancer, developmental harm, neurological harm, liver damage, and damage to the immune system.

It poses heightened risks to infants and children, as well as communities that practice subsistence fishing and hunting, communities where products containing DecaBDE are disposed of, and workers who work with products that contain the chemical.

Overview

A diverse coalition, advocating for stronger health protections from the toxic and persistent flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) and represented by Earthjustice, are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violating a federal law that requires EPA to take all practicable measures to limit exposure to some of the most dangerous chemicals in commerce.

The groups are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to invalidate loopholes in EPA regulations that would expose infants and children, workers, Indigenous cultural and subsistence practitioners, and communities across the country to DecaBDE for years to come and frustrate efforts to get the dangerous chemical out of consumer products and the environment.

DecaBDE is a toxic chemical that is used as a flame retardant in many consumer products, including electronics, curtains and upholstered furniture, and car parts. Plastic containing DecaBDE is also recycled into new consumer products — including toys marketed for infants and children, travel mugs, and kitchen utensils.

EPA acknowledges that DecaBDE is highly toxic, builds up in the human body over time, and does not break down readily in the environment. The chemical is also toxic to fish and contaminates soil and water when it leaches out of landfilled waste.

Case Updates

March 19, 2021 | Legal Document

Petition for Review, DecaBDE Yurok Tribe et al.

On Friday, a diverse coalition advocating for stronger health protections from the toxic and persistent flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating a federal law that requires EPA to take all practicable measures to limit exposure to some of the most dangerous chemicals in commerce. The Yurok Tribe, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Consumer Federation of America, and the Center for Environmental Transformation are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to invalidate loopholes in EPA regulations that would expose infants and children, workers, indigenous cultural and subsistence practitioners, and communities across the country to DecaBDE for years to come and frustrate efforts to get the dangerous chemical out of consumer products and the environment. The coalition is represented by the non-profit environmental law firm Earthjustice.

January 27, 2021 | Legal Document

Petition for Review, DecaBDE ACAT

On Friday, a diverse coalition advocating for stronger health protections from the toxic and persistent flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating a federal law that requires EPA to take all practicable measures to limit exposure to some of the most dangerous chemicals in commerce. The Yurok Tribe, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Consumer Federation of America, and the Center for Environmental Transformation are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to invalidate loopholes in EPA regulations that would expose infants and children, workers, indigenous cultural and subsistence practitioners, and communities across the country to DecaBDE for years to come and frustrate efforts to get the dangerous chemical out of consumer products and the environment. The coalition is represented by the non-profit environmental law firm Earthjustice.