AB 2998 deadline nears in California

California bear flag

A deadline is approaching in California. The state’s furniture retailers should clear their inventories of products covered by Assembly Bill 2998 before the law takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The law prohibits the sale and distribution of juvenile products, upholstered furniture, replacement components of reupholstered furniture and many mattresses if those products or materials contain certain flame-retardant chemicals at levels above 1,000 parts per million.

California’s Bureau of Household Goods and Services in the Department of Consumer Affairs recently published Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) to help manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, and retailers prepare for AB 2998’s implementation. The law directs the bureau to test products and issue fines for violations after Jan. 1.

Products carry warning labels now

Products already should be labeled if they contain FR chemicals at levels of 1,000 ppm or higher. The new law goes further, making it illegal to sell those products after the effective date. The state says it is giving plenty of notice.

“The bill was signed in September 2018 and is not effective (until) January 1, 2020,” the FAQ states. “The delayed implementation date was enacted to give industry time to liquidate non-compliant inventory or designate it for sale outside of California.”

No other state has banned the sale of the products covered by AB 2998.

Those products are broadly defined. Any upholstered furniture required to meet the test protocols in California Technical Bulletin 117-2013, the smolder test, is covered, whether residential or intended for use in public occupancy. Materials include all fabrics, barrier materials, resilient filling materials, and decking materials. Cushions and pads meant for outdoor use are not covered, however.

Responsibility may lie with retailers

The law won’t excuse anyone, according to the FAQ:

“It is the responsibility of all who sell or distribute covered products to ensure those products do not contain FR chemicals at levels above 1,000 ppm. For the purposes of enforcement, responsibility may lie with the manufacturer, importer, wholesaler, retailer or all parties in the chain of distribution.”

Labeling requirements under previous laws for products containing flame retardants will remain in place, but because of AB 2998, no such products should be for sale in California after Jan. 1.

For more information, call the Bureau of Household Goods and Services at 916-999-2041 or email homeproducts@dca.ca.gov.

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