Why are flame retardants required in furniture, anyway? – Slate Magazine

Posted by Trish Riley, June 22, 2010

I slashed the plastic wrap around the mattress. I was soon overcome by a sweet and pungent chemical smell.

…Because flame retardants don’t break down easily, they remain for years in the tissues of birds, aquatic organisms and mammals, including us, albeit in small quantities. An endocrine disruptor and neurotoxin, the retardants are linked to thyroid disorders and reproductive problems in animals and humans.

A dedicated young environmental chemist and new mother, [Heather] Stapleton has become something of a flame-retardant queen. She tested house dust from across the country and determined that it’s the major pathway of exposure to flame retardants for children, pets, and adults. The chemicals in dust come mostly from furniture and electronics. She’s currently in the process of testing 100 baby products for flame retardants. (Manufacturers are generally loath to offer any information on which chemicals their products contain and labeling is not required.)

I haven’t decided yet what to do with my couch. Landfill? Hazardous waste?

via Why are flame retardants required in furniture, anyway? – By Florence Williams – Slate Magazine.