Flame Retardants in Your Furniture: Poisonous, and They DON'T Work!

Flame Retardants in Your Furniture: Poisonous, and They DON'T Work!

Why the flame retardant industry is crooked, their products are dangerous, and how you can avoid them...


I''ve known for years, that the flame retardant chemicals used in sofas, mattresses, children''s sleepwear, etc. are harmful to our families and don''t work as well as some natural alternatives (like wool, which is naturally fire retardant). What I didn''t know what how badly it''s harming our environment, how American babies have the highest levels in the world of these chemicals in their bodies, and just what a scam the fire retardant chemical industry is in the first place.
The Chicago Tribune did an in-depth series about the use of fire retardant chemicals, their effectiveness (or should I say, lack thereof), and the extensive spread of these chemicals throughout the world, from exposure. It also touches on the scare tactics and underhanded tricks and lies used by the fire retardant manufacturers, all for the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Chicago Tribune flame retardant story.

Did you know that the standards for flame resistance is only TWELVE SECONDS?? That''s right, furniture makers are forced, by American law, to poison us, our children, and the workers who make the furniture, by impregnating foam and fabric with chemicals that supposedly hinder flames for a big fat whopping twelve seconds. Then, the entire thing goes up in flame as usual. And that''s a best case scenario.

The American public has been fooled into thinking that children will be safer in a chemically treated bed and in chemically treated pajamas, because according to the (paid off) "experts", these items will protect your child and give you or firefighters more time to save your child.

Twelve seconds!

These chemicals have been linked to cancer and a host of other ailments, but they are supposedly essential to your survival...just in case you have a fire, and just in case the chemicals do work as promised, and just in case twelve seconds is enough to save the life of your child. Meanwhile, have you noticed that the rates of cancer are skyrocketing, despite the amount of charities pouring money into a "cure"? Could it be that rates are going up because of the amount of chemicals being forced on us, in our foods, our clothes, our furniture, etc.?

And the worst part is, the flame retardant legislations were never really enacted to save anyone. It began when an increasing number of deaths happened decades ago, as a result of fires started by people who fell asleep in a chair or in bed while smoking. Rather than give in to the public call for cigarettes that extinguish themselves when they go unsmoked for a while, tobacco companies shifted the blame to furniture makers, and roped in the fire marshals to champion their cause.

As if Big Tobacco''s insidious deflection of responsibility wasn''t enough, nowadays we have the chemical companies doing whatever it takes to make sure they keep making money, no matter what toll it may take on our health. In the Tribune article, they describe a group called Citizens for Fire Safety, who supposedly organized to spread the word about the necessity of "safe" products (impregnated with flame retardants). It turns out, that "group of concerned citizens" is actually an industry organization composed of the top three companies that produce flame retardants.

Color me unsurprised.

The article also mentions a burn surgeon who testified in front of various state legislators, relating heartfelt, tear-jerker stories of a baby who was burned by a candle falling onto a pillow that wasn''t chemically treated, and was severely burned, suffered horribly, and later died. He told three very similar stories, with the age of the baby and details differing slightly each time he told the story to the lawmakers in different states.

The stories weren''t true.

When caught in his lie by Tribune reporters who uncovered the truth, the doctor told the Tribune his testimony in California was "an anecdotal story rather than anything which I would say was absolutely true under oath, because I wasn''t under oath."

So...he intentionally lied.

In other words, this guy was probably paid big bucks by the flame retardant lobbyists to LIE to our legislators, in order to preserve the hold this industry has on America. Regardless of the danger to us. All I can say to that doctor is that he should start doing some charity work or something, because Divine Justice is headed his way someday. Seriously, if you ever find yourself standing next to this guy, take a big step back, in case a lightning bolt strikes!

So what can we do about this? Are we powerless against these faceless, heartless companies?


1. We can vote. When these issues come up in legislation, and new laws are put up to give us the choice to ban these chemicals, or at least give us options, please VOTE YES!

2. Buy an organic, UNTREATED mattress. Remember, even organic mattresses are required to be treated, unless they are using approved natural alternatives to flame retardants, such as wool, or unless you provide the mattress company a note from your physician stating that you need an untreated mattress. There are many companies that make untreated mattresses. I recommend a 100% natural latex mattress (organic, if you can afford it) wrapped in wool (natural flame retardant) and encased in an organic cotton cover. They are very pricey, but that is what I plan to buy someday. Make sure it''s really all natural--some companies, like Ikea, say a mattress is natural latex, but the fine print will reveal that it''s really only 85% natural (meaning 15% synthetic and full of goodness-knows-what), so be careful. I don''t know if there are organic untreated sofas, but see #3 for options on those.

Click on picture to view image source.

3. Make your own furniture! Yes, it can be done, and it''s not as hard as you might think. Just make sure the materials you''re starting with are untreated. If possible, use organic wool or latex or cotton, but if not, at least make sure it''s really natural--ASK the company you''re buying from if their product is treated in any way. Below are links for making your own furniture.

4. Make your own children''s pajamas, or just have your child sleep in comfy, untreated, organic non-sleepwear (sweat suits, shorts and t-shirts, etc.). I don''t buy my children pajamas. They sleep in comfy clothing.

5. Research and find out what other household items and clothing may have chemicals. Find untreated, safe alternatives for those as well.

6. Don''t assume buying "used" keeps you safe. You might buy a used sofa, thinking that it will have "off-gassed" the chemicals. While that could be partly true, according to the article, experts believe that one way the chemicals are getting into our body the most is through dust. The sofa breaks down, contaminates the dust, you sit on it, and the dust is airborne, ready to ingest through our lungs or land on objects that we touch and then put our hands to our mouths--especially babies.

7. Buy a really good air purifier, and clean the filter or replace it often. That way, you can catch the offending dust and get rid of it.

8. Do an intensive cleanse to pull the toxins out of your body. Young Living offers products such as JuvaCleanse, which help clean out the liver and detox the body. Did you know that your liver is the filter of your body? It cleanses the blood. So all the bad stuff goes there, and it takes a beating. JuvaCleanse can help chelate heavy metals, toxins, and chemicals from your body. There are other products that can help as well, in addition to oils and supplements that will strengthen your body and immune system, and help it fight back.

Here are a few links to resources on making your own furniture:

We Made an Organic Couch!
Organic, EcoFriendly Sofa for less than $2000--How I Made It Okay, not cheap, but it''s an option.
Making the Bed A natural twin size mattress made from wool batts--relatively cheap, and even easier than it looks!
Open Your Eyes Buckwheat hull DIY bed kit--make your own "twist" mattress for only $526 (queen size).
Children''s Sleepwear: Avoiding Flame-Retardant Chemicals Some ideas on avoiding the treated pajamas...some particularly helpful tips if you can''t afford to buy organic non-sleepwear or don''t have the skills to buy organic fabric and make your own.
Ana White''s DIY Couch You could make an organic version of this sofa using natural latex for cushions and organic cotton for upholstery fabric.

We don''t have to pollute our homes and our families with these poisons. Say no to toxic chemicals in the home. We DO have the power. You don''t have to picket or hold a sit in or do anything that you might find "weird"--just vote with your dollars! Vote with the choices you make every day. Change the world, starting with your children, in your home, by making them the healthiest and most educated generation yet.

Rise up and take back your health!