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Fireproof chemicals in your couch linked to cancer in study

HOTtopic041212_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Most of us tend to eat a little more around the holidays, but it is not recommended to sleep it off on the couch.

A study involving 104 couches determined that 85 percent of them had been treated with known toxic chemical flame-retardants or others about which researchers did not have enough health information.

ABC News reported that Berkeley and Duke University scientists said 41 percent of couches contained chlorinated Tris, a carcinogen taken out of baby pajamas in the 1970s, and 17 percent had the worldwide-banned chemical pentaBDE.

According to Mother Jones, the research found that 94 percent of newer couches made after 2005 contained chemicals that were either confirmed toxic or had unknown risks, and the chemicals made up as much as 11 percent of the weight of the foam in the cushions.

Many of the chemicals that were tested are linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and learning problems in earlier human and animal studies, according to chemist Arlene Blum.

WebMD reported that another study by Silent Spring Institute from Massachusetts found that dust from 16 California homes tested in 2006 and again in 2011 had levels of at least one flame retardant chemical that went over federal health guidelines. The dust was found to come from flame-retardants used in products such as home insulation, upholstered furniture, carpeting, children’s and baby items, and electronics.

The American Home Furnishings Alliance says the problem comes when the industry tries to make their products fire-resistant while keeping them free of hazardous chemicals.

“Over the past 25 years, the incidence of household fires involving upholstered furniture in the United States has been reduced by more than 85 percent,” the group said, according to WBAY. “However, part of that success has been based on the incorporation of flame-retardant chemicals in upholstery.”

“AHFA has steadfastly maintained that product modifications should be made only as they are proven safe, effective and affordable for the greatest number of consumers," they continued.

 
Comments (10)
10 Thursday, 29 November 2012 15:29
M McColm
Many states including California demand that furniture manufactures use this chemical in there foam and then requires the retailer to disclose to there customer that the sofa they just bought could give them cancer. If your sofa is on fire then you are probably already out of the house or dead.
9 Thursday, 29 November 2012 15:14
Guy Bannis
Get a grip! Nature is full of known toxins and carinogens. Take a walk in a park, and you'll breathe in all of them.

Their presence alone does NOT mean there is a risk to us!
8 Thursday, 29 November 2012 14:57
common sense
Make the ones with the retardants for smokers. They won't notice the extra chemicals anyway. For non-smokers leave out the retardants.
7 Thursday, 29 November 2012 14:32
Ned Congdon
The madness is that everyone is forced to buy furniture made with known toxins. At minimum that should be the consumer's choice. I should not have those chemicals forced on me. BTW, 11% of foam weight is not an "extremely small" amount of chemicals.
6 Thursday, 29 November 2012 14:26
Logic
When is the madness going to stop where we try to "fix" or "prevent" something by throwing anything at it from asbestos to pesticides and end up creating and releasing more environmental and health damaging agents. I'd rather have a couch made of highly flammable tissue paper than have one made out of a known carcinogen since I won't be falling asleep on it with a lit cigarette. We need to think a few more steps ahead and come up with solutions that don't create 10 problems by solving 1. Lead, Asbestos, DDT, etc. were all effective solutions, but at what cost? How many people a year die from couch fires, probably not as many as die from Cancer so logically you'd think we'd be working to limit the use of known carcinogens in our products and environment. People thought DDT was safe until they realized the long term effects, so when you say there is no evidence of harm I say you aren't really looking past your own feet. It is OK to say I don't know if it is safe or harmful, but let's play it safe and look for a solution with less risk.
5 Thursday, 29 November 2012 13:53
Duane Johnson
David K Williams says that there is "no evidence" that "these extremely small amounts of chemicals" cause harm to people. Is he talking about the "small" amount of 11% by weight of the foam?

While I agree we shouldn't be afraid of everything, it's important to take health very seriously. Old guidelines (and laws) should be revisited when even the faintest evidence indicates precaution is advised.

According to fire safety engineer Vytenis Babrauskus, "fire just laughs at these chemicals". See http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/28/couches-sofas-toxic-flame-retardants-chemicals/1729769/
4 Thursday, 29 November 2012 13:50
catburglar
From the article:
“Over the past 25 years, the incidence of household fires involving upholstered furniture in the United States has been reduced by more than 85 percent,” the group said, according to WBAY. “However, part of that success has been based on the incorporation of flame-retardant chemicals in upholstery.”

Uhh, or maybe because people have stopped smoking inside their homes, therefore not falling asleep on sofas with cigarettes anymore? This seems more likely the cause for a reduction in upholstery fire than anything else.
3 Thursday, 29 November 2012 13:28
wandafry
anyone?
2 Thursday, 29 November 2012 13:24
David K Williams
When is this madness going to stop. There is NO evidence that these extremely small amounts of chemicals cause any harm to living things. The guidelines are not based on actual tests but are extrapolated based on modeling. We do know that fire in a home is extremely hazardous.
1 Thursday, 29 November 2012 13:21
Esther Delon
could autism be involved herein

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