I often worry about the chemicals I use in my house. I worry about what exactly is in the air freshener I use. I freak out when my husband buys a Teflon skillet.
But, I just read that another real threat in my house may be my sofa.
My sofa? A threat? Yes.
Since 1975, California has required that all furniture with foam such as sofas and baby products such as car seats be treated with flame retardant chemicals. That standard, maybe because California is so large a state, became the standard for most other states.
The problem is while we certainly don’t want things to burn out of control in case of a fire, we don’t want exposure to the chemicals this flame retardant produces. All over the country, items like pillows, strollers, carpet padding, and mattress pads are covered in chemicals. One such flame retardant chemical – penta-brominated diphenyl ether – was found to cause thyroid problems, low birth rates, and reproductive abnormalities and was banned from being use in 2004.
But, what replaced it? Testing found that one chemical used now – tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP) – was banned in the late ‘70s from being used in children’s pajamas because it was believed it affected DNA and could cause cancer.
However, good news may be on the way. California Governor Jerry Brown has announced an update to TB117, the law that requires flame retardant chemicals be used. The new law requires that fabrics and foams pass a smolder test. In the past, it had been a concern that when the foam that was treated did eventually start to burn, it released toxic fumes and smoke into the air. That harmed not only the owners, if they were still in the home, but firefighters as well.
The new law will have to undergo a six-week public comment before it is adopted. After that, officials think that other states will soon follow suit to adopting this law.