Your sofa may be bad for your health

PAN Media

November 28, 2012

This post is courtesy of Andrea K. Walker and originally appeared on

Afternoon naps on the sofa may be exposing people to toxic chemicals, a Duke University study has found.

More than half of all couches tested in the study contained potentially toxic or untested chemical flame retardants that may be a health risk.

Among the chemicals detected was “Tris,” a chlorinated flame retardant that was removed from baby pajamas in the 70s because of the health risks. The chemical was found in 41 percent of couch foam tested.

More furniture makers are treating their sofas with flame retardants to preven fires, said researcher Heather Stapleton, associate professor of environmental chemistry at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Manufacturers may not know what chemicals have been used in many cases because of the complicated buying process, the researchers said. Manufacturers buy their foam padding from a vendor who buys the chemicals used to treat it from another vendor.

The study found other harmful chemicals on couches. About 17 percent of the foam samples contained the flame-retardant pentaBDE, which is banned in 172 countries and 12 U.S. states and was voluntarily phased out by U.S manufacturers in 2005.

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