Could Your Couch Give You Cancer?

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It’s hard to avoid toxins in today’s world – even your couch could contain cancer-causing chemicals! Here’s how to tell, and what to do about it…

It seems like toxins are everywhere we turn these days, but this is nothing new; we have actually been surrounded by chemicals for many decades now. Some believe that this frequent chemical exposure is the cause for the increase in modern diseases (although it is more likely that this is caused by a wider variety of factors).

It’s no secret that the average American is exposed to hundreds of chemical compounds on a daily basis. There are hormone-disrupting agents in your deodorant and your food and even in your clothing. (The European Union has estimated the health care costs of these chemicals range into the hundreds of billions.)

So are you even safe in your own home? Not necessarily…. That depends on what chemicals you frequently use in your home, what was used in the building of your home, and even what kind of furniture you have. For example, the flame-retardant chemicals used in some mattresses and couches for several decades have been linked to cancer.

Here is more info on the potential dangers lurking in your couch, and what you can do about it:

Ask a public health scientist about couches and cancer, and you’re sure to hear about a State of California law enacted back in 1975. That law…required furniture manufacturers to treat their products with flame retardant chemicals, mainly to protect against fires started by neglected cigarettes.

“Most manufacturers didn’t want to have two production lines—one for California and one for the rest of the country—so after the regulation was passed most furniture included flame retardants,” says Heather Stapleton, associate professor and program chair of environmental health at Duke University. “Later on it was found that these flame retardants could migrate out of the products and into people.”

For the past decade, Stapleton has conducted a series of studies identifying the types and concentrations of flame-retardants used in consumer products. She and others say there is ample animal and lab research to suggest these chemicals may promote a number of health concerns, including cancer.

“There are concerns about endocrine disruption and neurotoxic effects, especially for pregnant women and children,” says Asa Bradman, associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at the University of California, Berkeley.

Bradman says these flame-retardants work their way out of your furniture and into the dust that coats your floors and other surfaces. From there, you or your children may be exposed by breathing them in or putting something in your mouth—fingers, a toy—that has been in contact with the chemical-coated dust particles.
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The good news is that newer laws have helped limit the use of flame-retardants in furniture. …New regulations make it less likely that flame-retardant chemicals will be added to the filling materials of sofas and other household furniture items, Stapleton says.
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Unfortunately, flame-retardants aren’t the only health concerns lurking in your sofa. Some anti-microbial treatments are also concerning… So, too, are stain and water-repelling treatments. “These chemicals, particularly fluorinated compounds, never break down in the environment—never—and they’ve been linked with liver and kidney cancer, and reproductive and developmental problems…”
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She recommends asking lots of questions before buying a new piece of furniture. When it comes to stain-repellant and antimicrobial treatments, a lot of furniture sellers advertise those as perks or add-ons. So they’re often easy to spot.

To avoid flame-retardants, check out a furniture piece’s label or tags. There may be information in a checked-box section stating that the item does not contain flame-retardants. Manufacturers or sellers should also be able to provide that info…

Also, clean your floors and home frequently. “These chemicals adhere to dust particles,” she says. “So vacuuming more and washing your hands can help.” She also recommends laying down blankets to keep your small children (and any toys they may put in their mouths) off the floor.
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Check out the full article at Time.com to learn more…

 

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