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Beware of Toxic Flame Retardants in Couches

Beware of Toxic Flame Retardants in Couches

December 1, 2012 – The overwhelming majority of household couches that were recently tested in a new study contain flame retardants that include toxic chemicals that in prior studies were linked to a number of different health problems.

The study compared results from older and newer sofas and indicated there was a presence of different flame retardants in the foam used in furniture that has increased over the last few years.

Tests were done on more than 100 couches used in residences that had been purchased between 1985 and 2010. Eighty-five percent had chemical flame retardants. In 17% of the couches, pentaBDE a chemical that was phased out in 2004 by its U.S. manufacturer was apparent. TDCPP or chlorinated Tris, which has replaced pentaBDE is a suspected human carcinogen and was found in more than 41% of the couches tested in the study. TDCPP primarily appeared in couches purchased after 2005.

PentaDBE is in a class of chemicals known as polybrominated disphenylethers that accumulated inside living organism and are persistent in our environment. The PDBE’s have been linked to a number of neurological disorders such as thyroid and liver toxicity. There have been traces of the chemicals in fish, birds, human breast milk and in other organisms in our environment.

In 13 of the couches, researchers found another retardant called Firemaster 550, which contains ingredients that are toxic. Most of the 13 couches, where the chemical was found had been sold within the past seven years. Chemical can leach out from furniture, enter into the atmosphere and attach themselves to particles of dust.

Flame retardants are widespread in furniture foam as well as in products made for babies. The reason is due to laws that have been longstanding to guard against fires in household furniture, but many more chemicals were found than had been expected.

In California, a law requiring flame retardants in furniture is being reviewed by the office of Governor Jerry Brown as it has been criticized for being ineffective and unnecessary.

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