Guest Post: “Toxic Flame Retardents in Couches” by Lindsay Dahl

Toxic Flame Retardents in Couches By Lindsay Dahl, Deputy Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families

When I sit on my couch to read a book or watch a movie, I’m looking for comfort, not cancer. As we’ve reported in the past, the majority (85%) of couches tested in the U.S. contain one or more toxic flame retardants, some of which are linked to cancer, neurological and hormonal harm.

In a new series in Times Square, we’re running several ads to highlight the important role retailers must play in solving this toxic chemical mess. The latest ad, pictured below, says it all. We don’t want toxic chemicals linked to cancer in our homes, bodies or communities. Retailers have a responsibility to step up and help us get out of this toxic chemical mess.

I have to admit, the issue of safe couches is perhaps the trickiest issue to navigate when we talk about toxic chemicals in our products. Price, lack of information, they are all barriers to creating a safe home. It’s much easier to find cheaper, safer alternatives to household cleaners, for example.

But the “couch issue” is what underscores two much needed changes to the status quo. First, Congress needs to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, to improve the safety of chemicals used in the products we buy everyday. Second, retailers need to tell their suppliers to stop using these toxic chemicals.

Can you imagine if you knew a retailer only sold couches that didn’t contain cancer-causing chemicals?! I would certainly shop at a store that took the lead on selling products that were free of the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. This important market campaign is asking retailers to step up and help solve this problem.

Here’s how you can help:

The fact remains, that most of the couches in our homes contain some form of toxic flame retardant, and the alternatives aren’t accessible to everyone. Each time I curl up on my couch I dream about the day when I can walk into a retailer and buy a couch free of toxic chemicals. I’m hopeful that with your help, that day will come sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately the only truly safe couches on the market cost a small fortune. Here is some information on where to find them if you can afford them and how to reduce exposure otherwise. Read more about this campaign and the great work by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families here.


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