Studies: Majority of Homes Have Toxic Furniture

By Lisa Parker
|  Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013  |  Updated 3:47 PM CDT
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There's mounting evidence that a chemical sprayed on furniture to make it flame retardant is itself extremely dangerous and full of toxins. Lisa Parker reports.

There's mounting evidence that a chemical sprayed on furniture to make it flame retardant is itself extremely dangerous and full of toxins. Lisa Parker reports.

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There's mounting evidence that chemicals sprayed on furniture to make them flame retardant may themselves be extremely dangerous and full of toxins.

Two recent independent studies say the chemicals leach into the environment and can be inhaled or ingested through dust in a home and then accumulate in human fat cells.

The family of chemicals have been connected to a range of health risks, including known carcinogens, hormone disrupters and some that pose both neurological and reproductive toxicity.

The University of California at Berkley's School of Public Health, which conducted one of the studies, said people can reduce their exposure to the dust by sealing tears in couches and upholstered furniture, by vacuuming and using a damp mop frequently, and by washing their hands.

At Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, scientists there said 85 percent of the couches they tested contained the chemicals.

One of the chemicals, chlorinated Tris, was singled out just last month by Illinois PIRG. The public interest group said the chemical, a known mutagen and a likely carcinogen, was found in 70 percent of tested baby products sold in popular stores in the Chicago area.

Some manufacturers say they'll phase out the use of the chemicals, and several states have banned some of them, but enforcement is tough.

To compound the concern and frustration, the compounds in question have been shown to have no meaningful effect on fire by both regulators and independent experts.

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