Danger Seats

More than 35 years after toxic, flame-retardant chemicals were banned from children’s sleepwear researchers have found they are still prevalent in the couches in many an American living room.

In fact researchers at Duke University and the University of California at Berkeley say they found the chlorinated carcinogenic flame retardant chemical Tris (TDCPP) in some 41 percent of the couches they analyzed as part of their research. Overall, some 85 percent of the couches they examined contained traces of chemical flame retardants that were known to be toxic or to have suspect health effects.

“Sadly enough many Americans now have increased cancer risks from the Tris in their furniture,” Dr. Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute said in a UCBerkeley press release.

The chemicals can move from foam into household dust; impacting pets and making small children, who often crawl and put their hands in their mouths especially vulnerable, researchers said.

Meanwhile, furniture industry representatives responded that their industry has been caught between pressure to make products that are flame-retardant as well as free of toxins.

The researchers’ findings were reported recently in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.