November 28, 2012
More than half of U.S. couches contain potentially toxic flame retardants that pose risks to humans as the chemicals migrate from furniture foam into house dust, says a Duke University-led study published today.
Of 102 couches tested, 41% had foam with chlorinated Tris, a probable human carcinogen removed from baby pajamas in 1977, and 17% contained the chemical pentaBDE, now globally banned, according to the peer-reviewed study in Environmental Science & Technology. Most, 85%, were treated with some kind of untested or potentially toxic flame retardant.
“The levels are enormous … People have a pound of these toxic chemicals in their couches,” says coauthor Arlene Blum, a chemist at the University of California-Berkeley and founder of the Green Science Policy Institute, which studies chemicals in consumer products. She says flame retardants account for up to 11% of the foam’s weight and were most common in sofas five years old or less; 94% contained them.
More manufacturers have been treating polyurethane foam with flame retardants to meet a California flammability standard, known as TB117, that requires furniture sold in the state to withstand a 12-second exposure to a small open flame without igniting. Because of the size of the California market, its standard has become a de facto national one.
This article was posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 11:24 am