Another example of government creating arbitrary policies that just waste time and money, and probably kill us.
Since 1975, an obscure California agency called the Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation has mandated that the foam inside upholstered furniture be able to withstand exposure to a small flame, like a candle or cigarette lighter, for 12 seconds without igniting.
Who decided on 12 seconds? Why the inside of furniture rather than the outside? Who does this benefit? Why is there even a Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation? Why do government agencies like the EPA exist when they can't say anything about the safety of chemicals that are in couches in probably in upwards of 95% of homes in America?
It wouldn't surprise me if a flame retardant manufacturer was behind the law to begin with, which is even more disgusting.
It was totally a lobbying effort to get the legislation passed. First by the tobacco industry because of fires started by smokers falling asleep with lit cigarettes, then by the chemical industry (by courting state fire marshals) to boost sales of their flame retardants. The Chicago Tribune has a multi-part series on it here: http://media.apps.chicagotribune.com/flames/index.html