Date of Graduation

Summer 8-4-2023

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Teri Boughton-DeBencik


Since the 1970s, flame retardants have been used extensively in consumer goods, including furniture, textile, and electronics, to meet California’s flammability standards. (Gibson et al.,2019) Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs), once the most widely used flame retardants being used in consumer products, were phased out from use in manufacturing as evidence emerged about PBDEs persistence and toxicity. (Hoffman et al.,2017) PBDEs were replaced by Organophosphate Flame Retardants (OPFRs), which has proven to be a case of ‘regrettable substitution’ as exposure to OPFRs is ubiquitous and pervasive in humans due to their volatility and propensity to leach from products into the environment.

Emerging evidence also points towards neurodevelopmental delays in children exposed to OPFRs. Evidence suggests that children ages 0 to 5 are at a much higher risk of exposure as they are mostly indoors in proximity to a significant source of these flame retardants, such as upholstered furniture found in most houses.

From 2020, laws in California have banned production and sale of upholstered furniture containing flame retardants. However, exposure to OPFRs from older furniture presents a public health problem as children and families in low-income communities are more likely to use older furniture and are thus still susceptible to high levels of exposure to flame retardants.

This investigation lays out evidence and risks of exposure to OPFRs and recommends a pilot program to reduce exposure to flame retardants in children living in low-income housing in City of San Francisco.