Sofas containing flame retardant on foam are dangerous for our health. The chemicals have been found to cause health problems including cancer. Prior to synthetic foams, feathers, horsehair, wool or cotton batting, and straw was used to fill furniture cushions. Polyurethane foam was introduced as a cushion component in furniture in 1957. Flame retardants were introduced as a safety precaution but end up causing more harm than good. The following are fire retardant chemicals to avoid:
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, are chemicals used as flame retardants in a many products, including building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles. 1 PBDEs resemble the molecular structure of PCBs, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and impaired fetal brain development. PBDEs have been banned in some U.S. states and the European Union, but they persist in the environment and accumulate in your body – and often exist in products imported from other countries. Higher exposures to PBDEs have been linked to decreased fertility, hormone disruptions, fetal developmental issues, and cancer. In utero and childhood PBDE exposures were associated with neurodevelopmental delays, including decreased attention, fine motor coordination, and cognition.
Another dangerous flame-retardant chemical known as chlorinated tris (TDCPP) can be found in some couch cushions across the United States. The chemical can be transfered in dust form from the foam into household dust and inhaled or ingested. Vacuums and air filters with a HEPA-filter and/or a wet mop helps to reduce exposure to toxic dust. 2
Polyurethane foam products manufactured prior to 2005 are most likely to contain PBDEs. Avoid reupholstering furniture pieces you may suspect to contain PBDEs as the reupholstering process increases your risk of exposure
Firemaster 550 made with bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBPH). TBPH is nearly idential to DEHP, the phthalate banned in children’s products due to evidence of carcinogenicity and developmental toxicity.
How to Avoid It
Healthy Alternatives: 3
Tyical Upholstered Chair