Alternatives to BFRs

BFRs in the Health Care Setting

Products that may contain brominated flame retardants in the health care setting include:

  • Mattresses, foam pads, and other bedding materials in patient rooms.
  • Furniture cushions, lamp shades, privacy curtains, drapery, and window blinds.
  • Electronic equipment such as televisions, pulse oximeters, monitors, ventilators, and IV pumps likely have BFRs in the plastic housing.
  • At the nursing stations, BFRs may be in computers, printers, fax and copy machines, and assorted office furniture.
  • In the cafeteria and other eating areas, BFRs may be in microwave ovens, refrigerators, and other appliances.
  • In nearly every area of the hospital — from shipping and receiving to the operating rooms — foam packaging is found that can contain BFRs.

BFR-Free Alternatives

Many products that do not contain BFRs are available, effective, and affordable. Health care institutions can make efforts to reduce the use of products and materials containing BFRs.

When available, hospitals can choose products that meet flame retardancy standards without any added flame retardants — products that are inherently flame resistant such as wool or Kevlar.

Hospitals can also:

  • Require disclosure of the name and CAS number (chemical abstracts service registry number) of all added flame retardants used in the products purchased.
  • Express a preference for products that do not contain toxic, persistent, bioaccumulative toxicants and alert vendors that, as more information on flame retardants becomes available, you will choose products with flame retardants that have been comprehensively tested for health and safety.