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Flame Fighting Chemicals Abundant in House Dust and Sofas

Posted: December 19, 2012 |   Comments

Chemicals are commonly added to furniture, carpeting, and even electronic devices to limit the risk of fire. But at what cost?

Two new studies published journal Environmental Science & Technology highlight the potential dangers of flame retardants - including chemicals linked to cancer and to hormone disruption - that are probably present in nearly every American home.

One of the two new studies focuses on sofa cushions. Researchers from Duke University, Boston University, and University of California Berkeley took cushions from sofas across the U.S. and found that there were suspect flame-retardant chemicals in 85% of them. The second study shows how those chemicals then likely migrate out of furniture and into the air we breathe. Scientists at Silent Spring Institute in Massachusetts analyzed household dust in California and found that, in most of the 16 homes tested, there was at least one chemical present at potentially unsafe levels.

"What's concerning about this is that so many of these chemicals we're finding are associated with hormone disruption or cancer, or haven't been tested," says Robin Dodson, a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute. "It's worrisome."

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