Advocacy
Five Couches Without Flame Retardants You Can Buy Right Now

Five Couches Without Flame Retardants You Can Buy Right Now

March 23, 2015

Originally published on EWG’s Enviroblog

Do you know that your couch may be toxic to you and your kids? A weak federal chemical safety law and poorly designed state fire safety standards fail to protect Americans from thousands of dangerous chemicals like flame retardants.

Ten years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and health advocates forced flame retardant chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, from the market. These chemicals were showing up in people’s bodies, and research suggested that they disrupted hormone signaling and children’s developing brains and nervous systems. In 2008, EWG testing found that toddlers’blood contained nearly three times the levels of PBDEs of their parents’ bodies.

While most PBDEs are no longer used in couches, the broken federal chemical law allows other potentially problematic chemicals to be substituted. Last year, EWG teamed up with Duke University scientists to look at concentrations of these alternative fire retardants in more than 20 mothers and children. The urine of every mother and child tested yielded evidence of exposure to TDCIPP, a cancer-causing fire retardant. In fact, when the participants’ bodies were tested for a chemical biomarker left when TDCIPP breaks down, the study found that the children’s bodies contained five times the amount of the chemical in their mothers. In the most extreme case, a child had 23 times the level measured in the mother.

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