The most toxic thing in your house?

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The below link discusses the hidden toxic chemicals problem, or how your soft and comfy couch could also be… cancer causing.

According to the results of a nationwide study by the researchers from Duke University, 50% of Americans’ sofas are likely to contain a toxic chemical known to cause cancer. Be it the most common cancer-causing chemical, a flame retardant known as “Tris” or TDCPP, or the second most common one, a proprietary blend called Firemaster 550 (not thoroughly tested on human health), none of the toxic chemicals used in sofas are required to be identified on tags or in any other form, which makes it extremely difficult to avoid them.

There are pounds of them in a typical couch, and you inhale them each time you sit down… Now, if only your couch was to blame, but these toxic compounds are used in curtains, carpets, carpet padding, and even building insulation. Anything flammable that “needs” a flame retardant.

It is a California state law called Technical Bulletin (or TB 117 states that the polyurethane foam used in couches must  resist an open flame, hence the use of flame retardant chemicals) that created this, and it became national de facto since manufacturers did not want to make two different types of one same product. A long overdue revamp of it is expected for Spring 2013. In the meantime, here is what you can do:

  • Buy natural fibers (linen and wool are inherently fire resistant)
  • Fix anything ripped so toxic flame-retardant-laden dust stays inside
  • Dust using a damp mop and vacuum using a HEPA-filter-equipped vacuum cleaner
  • Wash your hands often to reduce the amount of flame retardants entering your body, and not just at home
  • Check out to find ways to contact your own legislators and urge them to enact the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) law, available since 2008
Credit photo:

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