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October 19, 2017

Alert! San Francisco Issues Ordinance Banning Flame Retardants in Certain Products!

Dear DCA Mailing List member,

I apologize in advance for clogging your inbox this week, but a new regulatory requirement you may be interested in has just been passed, here in my very own city of San Francisco.

On Tuesday 10/17 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an "Ordinance amending the Environment Code to ban the sale in San Francisco of Upholstered Furniture and Juvenile Products made with or containing an added Flame Retardant Chemical".

I had a discussion with the San Francisco Department of the Environment regarding this regulation recently. In that converstion I indicated that electrical and electronic components/modules contained in such products often have no choice but to include flame retardants (due, again, to the use of flammable electrically-insulating materials in areas with potentially high energy density such as might occur, e.g., in the event of a short circuit). Rather than provide a general carve-out for such flame-retarded components, they chose a different path requiring action from every manufacturer of affected products.

The final version is here.

The Ordinance comes into force on Jan. 1 2019, but Sec 2803(a)(2) delays that 6 months to July 1, 2019 for "Covered Products with electrical or electronic components". A petition process will be defined by the SF Department of the Environment and be in place beginning July 1, 2018 per Sec. 2803(c). So rather than a general carve-out for electrical/electronic items contained within a Covered Product, each manufacturer of such a product must apply for a waiver where they can "demonstrate that strict compliance shall cause severe hardship or practical difficulty, or would not be feasible."

Legislative history is here.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Best Regards,
Michael Kirschner

Design Chain Associates LLC


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