Ecojustice Blog – Healthy communities Posted on November 30, 2012 (updated: February 17, 2015)

How Your Furniture Might Be Harming Your Health

Dr. Elaine MacDonaldScientist

Tonight’s CBC Marketplace episode will expose the downside of chemical flame retardants used in household furniture.

Flame retardants are added to household furniture like the foam in couch cushions and plastic enclosures around electronics to supposedly reduce the risk from a house fire. But studies have shown that the flame retardant chemicals don’t stay put in those items and can contaminate our indoor environment.

Many flame retardant have serious health effects and have been linked to learning disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder in children and even cancer. Ecojustice fought hard over several years to secure a commitment from the Canadian federal government to ban the most prevalent class of flame retardants called PBDEs while calling for a safer alternatives.

Academic studies released this week show that the phase out of PBDEs used in foam has led to the use of even greater amounts of other unregulated and toxic flame retardant chemicals – including chemicals linked to cancer – and higher levels of those flame retardants in household dust.

Further, the CBC story casts doubt on the ability of some flame retardants to slow a fire. Given the risk of exposure to toxic flame retardant chemicals used in furniture and other products, it is time to get these useless chemicals out of all of our household products.

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