Flame retardant chemicals aren’t essential to fire safety, yet they have been widely applied to many products we regularly use in our homes and offices. The chemicals migrate out of these products into the air and dust in indoor environments where we are exposed to them continuously. They persist in the environment, and our bodies, for long periods of time. They have been associated with adverse effects on neurodevelopment and interference with our hormone and reproductive systems. 

In November 2015, Harvard became the first university to sign a national pledge stating a preference for purchasing chemical flame retardant-free furniture. Other signatories to the pledge include Kaiser Permanente, Facebook, Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts, and Autodesk. 

The Office for Sustainability is partnering with Harvard capital project and planning teams, Strategic Procurement, and Environmental Health and Safety to identify and source chemical flame retardant-free furniture across the University, and in accordance with regulations.

Chemical Flame Retardant-Free Toolkit and Buyer's Guide

Faculty from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's Center for Global Health and the Environment created this video series to educate the community. 

Flame retardants: Why do we have them and how are they harmful? from CHGEHarvard on Vimeo.


Is there are benefit to having flame retardants in our products? from CHGEHarvard on Vimeo.


Can we choose products without flame retardants? from CHGEHarvard on Vimeo.