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SOFFA bills reintroduced in Congress

Doris Matsui

SOFFA returned this week, with bipartisan bills introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House.

Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Ca.) and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) announced today they will sponsor the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act (SOFFA) “to set a national furniture flammability standard that will reduce the need for harmful flame retardants in furniture,” a news release from Matsui’s office said.

A companion bill was placed in the Senate by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

The legislation would make California’s Technical Bulletin 117-2013 a national standard, replacing an open flame test with a smolder test for furniture flammability. “California adopted this standard in 2013 and has demonstrated that while the new standard poses no new fire safety risks, it does reduce the presence of flame retardants in home products and furniture, thereby protecting consumers across the state from harmful health impacts,” Matsui’s office said.

Matsui represents California’s 6th Congressional District, which includes Sacramento. She is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and serves on its Consumer Protection and Commerce subcommittee. 

“For years, the state of California has demonstrated that the old standards for furniture flammability do not offer any additional protection while introducing the additional risk of hazardous flame retardants in Americans’ homes,” she said.  “Our bill will eliminate the need for dangerous chemicals like organohalogen and organophosphorus flame retardants, which we know have adverse health and environmental effects. I look forward to working with my congressional colleagues and the Energy & Commerce Committee to move this important legislation as expeditiously as possible so that we can reduce the risk that ordinary home products pose to American families.”

“Our legislation would create a clear federal standard on furniture flammability,” Rep. Griffith added. “It would result in safer products for our homes and allow furniture manufacturers to make their products without worrying about a tangle of varying state regulations. I am pleased to join in this bipartisan effort.”

The Home Furnishings Association supports national legislation to put an end to a proliferation of inconsistent and poorly considered state actions. The California approach has proven successful and should be the model for the national standard.

Sen. Wicker introduced a similar bill in 2018, but it did not advance before the end of the last Congress.

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