You could be sitting on a health hazard! Because of a 40-year old flammability standard in the state of California, most couch foam in the US is soaked in toxic flame-retardant chemicals. Dr. Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a medical doctor, researches toxicity in the flame retardant chemicals used in upholstered furniture foam in the U.S. She wrote a guest blog post forScientific American sharing the results of a recent study on couch foam as they pertained to her couch. She and her family watch movies, eat snacks and play on a couch that contains over a pound of the known carcinogen chlorinated Tris. The study showed that most free-floating flame retardant chemicals in our living rooms aren’t even effective in preventing fires.
It all began in 1975, when California passed TB 117, a flammability standard that resulted in the foam in our upholstered furniture being saturated with pounds of toxic flame retardants.
TB 117 has become the default standard for furniture sold in this country. Widespread exposure of humans and pets to the toxins used is harmful. Women with high levels of these toxins in their blood tend to have smaller babies, and babies with lower IQs. Children exposed in the womb can have attention problems. The toxins have also been linked to male infertility and male birth defects. In animal studies, high levels of these toxins have been linked to obesity. Children are especially at risk for inhaling and ingesting the chemicals because they crawl all over the furniture and put things in their mouths.
Toxin-free fire safety is possible and flammability standards should reflect the way fires really start, and promote alternatives to toxic substances.
For more information read Dr. Janssen’s piece at http://goo.gl/XyIgL
and watch the 3 minute 50 second video. The graphics are fabulous (and done by one of our daughters)!
To help change these ineffective and harmful flammability standards go to www.nrdc.org.