Streams

Toxic Couches

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Couch (Daniel Kolinski/flickr)

Sarah Janssen, NRDC senior scientist for health, talks about the study that found high levels of toxic or untested flame retardants in 85% of the couches tested.

Guests:

Sarah Janssen

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Comments [11]

BSmith

How long do these chemicals "evaporate"? In other words, how long are these pieces unsafe?

Nov. 29 2012 12:34 PM
BSmith from Key Biscayne

A few questions:

1) Do foreign manufacturers (not owned by US companies) have to conform to US flame standards? In other words, if I buy an Italian sofa, will it contain the flame retardants?

2) How do I know if a piece of furniture contains Tris or not if I do not live in CA?

3) Does anyone know of reliable manufacturers who have pledged to not use these flame retardants?

Nov. 29 2012 12:33 PM
Vera Maurah from New York

Excellent source of information at online watchdog group, http://greensciencepolicy.org/
No discussion on flame retardant toxins in consumer goods is complete with out acknowledging the work of biophysical chemist, Green Science Policy Org. director and high-altitude mountaineer Arelene Blum.

Nov. 29 2012 11:17 AM

Let's not forget Philip Morris' and RJR's role in all this:

"Philip Morris collaborated with the marshals on flame retardant furniture standards in the early 1990s, he said, because the company believed those might present "a potentially more effective alternative for improved fire safety."

"The lobbyist worried that "the relationship of the industry โ€” especially Philip Morris โ€” to the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) may eventually be disclosed publicly." She suggested to the Tobacco Institute that the fire marshals stop discussing fire-safe cigarettes and focus solely on furniture flammability standards.

"But the industry didn't sever ties, in part because other cigarette executives thought they needed the marshals to counter fire-service groups that were pushing for fire-safe cigarette laws, records show. . . .

"The plan used italics to hammer home the urgency of focusing on the furniture fueling fires, not the cigarettes igniting them: "In 1996, fire officials must keep the pressure on the Commission to focus on the fuels rather than ignition sources."

"The fire marshals' actions helped Big Tobacco fend off fire-safe requirements for years. . . . "

--"Big Tobacco wins fire marshals as allies in flame retardant push"

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/flames/ct-met-flames-tobacco-20120508,0,6090419,full.story

Nov. 29 2012 11:13 AM

Re "we're not in California,":
If Manufacturers can do so cheaply, they build all their products to the most restrictive standards, and then sell the product everywhere, rather than build a California-only model.
Therefore, California laws affect us all.

Nov. 29 2012 11:05 AM
jf from Ny

Chemicals in all our hygene prroducts are banned in europe for causing cancer. Gmos are banned in other countries for causing cancer. Cleaning products cause cancer when baking soda works better and isgood for you. Diesel causes cancer. Alcohol causes cancer. Cannabis cures cancer. Run for the cure? Lets run for not getting pourposly poisoned by our government and corperations that profit from cancer. Chemo therapy makes cancer worse.

Nov. 29 2012 11:04 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Um, we're not in California, lady. Give us some info we can use!

Nov. 29 2012 10:58 AM

Do the memory foams have these retardants?

Nov. 29 2012 10:58 AM

Wool fabric is naturally flame-retardant.
Most synthetic fabrics are not.
In fact, Con Ed forbids line workers from wearing synthetic clothing when working on high voltage.
Wool is also very comfortable to sit on.

Nov. 29 2012 10:55 AM
Caitlin

Are leather couches any safer than fabric ones?

Nov. 29 2012 10:54 AM
CK from Yorktown

So this is what the government "protecting" us has gotten to: the flame retardants to protect you from your burning sofa now leads to treating furniture with this and other chemicals. Now that we've legislated so much protection, do we have to make laws about each and every chemical they can and cannot use?

Nov. 29 2012 10:54 AM

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