Toxins in your couch?

Babies in the US are born with the highest levels of flame retardant chemicals in their blood of children anywhere in the world.  These chemicals can lead to hormone and fertility problems, thyroid problems, cancers, and death from SIDS.  There are flame retardants in your couch, mattress, carpeting, and many products specifically marketed for babies like changing pads, highchairs, and carriers.  A chemical added to flammable materials to make them less flammable and prevent house fires sounds like a good idea right?  What if those flame retardants are chemicals known to cause serious health problems including cancer?  And what if they don't even work to prevent fires?… What is going on?  As with many things which have been mandated for "public health", there may have been some good intention behind putting flame retardants into furniture, but the real facts indicate we need to reevaluate the risks and benefits.  A dropped cigarette or tipped candle has started many a home fire with devastating consequences.  If these chemicals actually did prevent home fires it might seem sensible, however, the research shows these chemicals do not reduce your risk of death in a fire.  Once the fabric covering which is not required to contain the chemicals catches fire, flames easily overwhelm the chemicals in furniture foam that are supposed to prevent it, then the smoke becomes incredibly toxic and more dangerous to those near the flames due to the presence of these chemicals and dioxins among other chemicals which are produced when they burn.  These flame retardants are known to cause cancer and developmental defects, and they lurk all over your house not just on the couch and mattress but on the floor as dust ready to be picked up by the dog or your toddler.  The saddest issue by far with these chemicals is that they will increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death or SIDS.  This is respiratory failure in newborns caused by the flame retardants in old mattress breaking down and contributing to the growth of a toxic fungus.  If it sounds terrible, it is.  The story of how these chemicals got into our furniture in the first place is available at this link to the Chicago Tribune article Playing With Fire.  These chemicals are found in couches, upholstered furniture, seat cushions, carpet padding, and child changing pads, strollers and car seats.  So how do you avoid them?  First stop bringing more of them into your home.  As you replace furniture and flooring choose less toxic alternatives.  Buy an organic cotton and/or wool mattress, choose organic cotton couches and futons, replace your upholstered chairs with old fashioned wooden ones, and replace your carpets with a solid surface flooring and washable cotton rugs.  For a guide to choosing Baby products without these chemicals click here for the Green Science Policy Institute Safe Kids Buyers Guide.