If you’re still going to bed at night with that scratchy tag stuck on your pillow, here’s some good news: You can take it off without getting in trouble.
Although consumers don’t break any laws if they remove the tag, manufacturers and retailers do. If they remove the tag, or don’t attach one to their product, they’re breaking the law.
“It is important for manufacturers to comply with labeling requirements,” says Justin Paddock, Chief of the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI). “These labels ensure consumers know if the products they are purchasing are new or used, contain added chemicals, may pose a risk to family members with allergies, and that products meet basic flammability requirements. In short, these labels protect the health and welfare of households.”
The labels are there to tell you about what you can’t see—namely, what’s inside that sofa, chair, pillow, mattress, or other item that has filling that is not visible. The two labels consumers may be most familiar with are law and flammability labels. California law requires manufacturers to attach these labels to every piece of new upholstered furniture they sell. All new bedding products such as pillows, comforters, etc. must also have a law label. All new mattresses must have a white law label, which includes the finished size, weight of the filling materials, and the Federal flammability label. Used mattresses and box springs must be sanitized by Bureau-approved methods before they are resold and bear a yellow sanitization label.
Mattress labeling requirements in California began in 1911, in response to the fires following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. At that time, there were no set standards for letting consumers know what materials were used in the making of mattresses, allowing unscrupulous manufacturers to use unsafe materials. It was discovered that those shoddy mattresses contributed significantly to the fires following the earthquake. In response, the Bureau of Home Furnishings was created to regulate the mattress industry in the state. The Bureau’s jurisdiction was later expanded to include the regulation of home furnishing products.
The law and flammability labels must be white with black print and attached to the items so they are easily visible. Labels must also be printed on material that is not easily torn (that’s why they’re so scratchy).
If you want to see examples of what the labels look like, what they are required to have on them, and explanations regarding the law and it requirements, take a look at BEARHFTI’s latest brochure, California Upholstered Furniture and Bedding Laws, online at http://www.bearhfti.ca.gov/forms_pubs/labeling_brochure_v6.pdf.
What does this all mean? It means you can get a good night’s rest knowing that what you’re sleeping on is safe. Plus, the next time you buy an upholstered or filled item or piece of furniture in California, you can tear off the tags with confidence. Once you buy it, it’s up to you.