Harvard pledges to purchase chemical flame retardant-free furniture

In November 2015, Harvard became the first university to sign a national pledge stating a preference for purchasing chemical flame retardant-free furniture. In a blog post, Heather Henriksen, director of the Harvard Office for Sustainability, and Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained the decision.

The research linking chemical flame retardants to “adverse health effects including cancer, interference with the hormone system, impairments to neurological development, and reproductive harm,” is clear, they write. And eliminating these chemicals does not weaken fire safety, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Sound science, coupled with product transparency, can help purchasers make smarter, more informed choices on behalf of our community and the environment,” they write.

Read blog post: Choosing a Chemical Flame-Retardant Free Campus

Learn more

Chemicals of Concern (Office of Sustainability)

Flame Retardants and Health (Center for Health and the Global Environment)