Why You Should Fear Your Sofa, Baby Stroller and Nursing Pillow

Flame retardants in everyday products cause cancer, birth defects or endocrine disruption in every animal species studied.

January 18, 2010 | Source: AlterNet | by Ruth Rosen

For good or ill, California often leads the nation’s social and cultural trends and legal standards. California’s passion for organic, local food, for example, has spread across the nation. When the state demanded lower vehicle emissions, manufacturers rushed to produce vehicles compliant with California’s regulations. With nearly forty million people buying consumer products in one state, manufacturers across the nation, as well as in China, tailor their specifications to meet California’s regulations.

Here’s the “ill” part. In 1972, California passed legislation requiring flammability standards for upholstered furniture and baby products like high chairs, strollers and nursing pillows. Manufacturers met these new standards by using inexpensive, toxic and untested flame retardant chemicals. These flame retardants contained hazardous halogenated chemicals similar to PCB’s and Dioxins, two of the most toxic classes of chemicals, Untested in humans, these brominated and chlorinated flame retardants can cause cancer, birth defects, neurological and reproductive or endocrine disruption in every animal species studied. As a result, one state’s law has become the de facto standard for the country and poses a serious threat to everyone in the nation. Californians, in fact, have earned the dubious honor of having the highest amount of toxic flame retardant chemicals in their bodies of any people on the planet.

Environmental health experts speak about “the body burden,” of the many dangerous chemicals we ingest that compromise our health. Once you bring these products into your home, the flame retardant chemicals, which are not chemically yoked to the upholstery foam , escape as dust into your living room and bedroom, adding millions of pounds of toxic chemicals to homes across the country. This toxic household dust, according to research studies, not only enters our bodies, but also contaminates soil, water and ends up in our food.

Most people are blissfully unaware of these flame retardants. Across the country you see people who are worried about dangerous toxins carrying their “BPA-free” water bottles. But they are unaware of the pounds of potential endocrine disrupters and carcinogens floating around their living rooms and bedrooms.