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Outdated Minnesota Law Requires Use of Toxic Flame Retardant (FR) Chemicals in Recreational Camping Tents & Children’s Indoor Play Tents

The Problem

  • An outdated 1975 Minnesota law continues to unnecessarily expose consumers, children, MN lakes, waterways and the environment to unnecessary toxic FRs in tents.
  • Duke University Study Scientific studies in 2014 and 2016 found that skin exposure to flame retardants occurs from handling camping tents and that inhalation exposure will likely occur while inside a tent. Wiping the hands of Duke University Blue Devil Basketball fans camping out in modern tents for basketball tickets, researchers found flame retardant levels of chlorinated tris, a confirmed human mutagen and carcinogen, that were 29 times higher post tent setup on students’ hands. FRs were also detected in the air inside of treated tents.
  • Most consumers, including legislators, do not know there are flame retardants in camping tents and children’s play tents. Children, in particular, have frequent hand-to-mouth contact without washing their hands after handling these toxic treated tents.
  • MN law (see Sec. 325F.03 MN Statutes & Sec. 325F.04 MN Statutes) effectively requires the addition of flame retardant chemicals to their camping tents — and children’s play tents — to be in compliance.

The Solution

  • Modern camping & children’s play tents are made of nylon and polyester — fabrics with lower flammability characteristics — than materials in the 1960s and 1970s, which were made of heavy cotton waxed canvas. Available international government injury surveillance data and new testing samples data demonstrate very low risk of fire and injuries using modern tent materials.
  • California (2023), Massachusetts (2015), and Michigan (2023) have each recently removed or updated requirements for small camping, backpacking, and children’s play tents.
  • Tent retailers, manufacturers, and the Outdoor Industry Association are working together with NGOs like Clean Water Action Minnesota and the Green Science Policy Institute to help change standards and have developed a new standard and test method that can be met without flame retardant chemicals. Changes to MN legislation are needed before this improved standard can be implemented. Minnesota has not updated its standards since 1975.

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