Flame retardants were added to furniture to help keep us safe but they may be harming our long term health. Studies have linked the flame retardants polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, to memory and learning problems, delayed development, fertility issues, and thyroid disruptions. Some flame retardants have also been linked to cancer.
Studies have also shown these flame retardants may not be effective. Leaving us questioning their use even more.
In 1977, brominated tris was banned from children’s pajamas, when DNA damage was shown in animals. Two PBDEs were pulled from the U.S. market in 2004. Yet the chemical banned in the pajamas is still used in upholstered furniture!
Thankfully, last month New York Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a new bill, The Children and Firefighter Protection Act, to ban the ten most toxic flame retardants in upholstered furniture and children’s products.
And even better news, some companies are already making the changes! NRDC conducted a survey of 16 major U.S. furniture stores to find out which were taking the harmful chemicals out.
The Futon Shop and Crate & Barrel already have flame retardant free products available. La-Z- Boy will starting later this year. William-Sonoma (Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm), IKEA, and Interline (Scandinavian Designs, Dania, Plummers) will have flame retardant free options starting in 2015.
Ethan Allen and Wal-Mart say they are committed to phasing out the chemicals but aren’t sure when the products will be available. Pier 1, Restoration Hardware, and Target haven’t addressed the issue yet. And American Signature, Cost Plus, Macy’s, Rooms-to-Go and Sears didn’t respond to NRDC’s requests for information.
Click this chart to read the full report:
Also be sure to check out Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Five Easy Steps to Take Action for Toxic-Free Furniture.
Will you be shopping from the stores that are removing flame retardants in the future? What will you do until then?