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885 Is Your Sofa Toxic? 12/22/2012

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Is your comfy couch a hidden health hazard? Flame retardants found in upholstered furniture pose concerns about reproduction, neurological development and possibly even cancer. What is in your sofa? Are the fire prevention benefits worth the potential health risks?

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885 Is Your Sofa Toxic?  12/22/2012

885 Is Your Sofa Toxic? 12/22/2012

Regular Price: $2.99


Product Description

Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here's what it's about:

We think of our homes as safe sanctuaries. Sometimes, however, in an effort to increase safety, we can inadvertently introduce health hazards. In 1975, the state of California issued regulations requiring makers of upholstered furniture to reduce its flammability. The result was that manufacturers began adding flame retardant chemicals in large quantities.

Compounds like tris and PBDEs are no longer used in manufacturing, but they are still present in older furniture throughout the country. What effects might they have on our health? Are newer compounds safer?

Scientists behind the recent study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology discuss their findings that 85% of the couches studied contained chemical flame retardants. Does the benefit of these agents justify the potential harm? Or could your comfy couch constitute a health hazard?

Guests: Arlene Blum, PhD, is founder and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. She is a biophysical chemist and a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Chemistry. Her books on the topic of mountain climbing include: Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life.

Her websites are and

Frequently Asked Questions (How do I know if my furniture has flame retardants? How can I reduce my family's exposure to flame retardants?)

How to Reduce Toxics in Your Home handout

How to Buy Flame Retardant Free Furniture handout

More information and resources for consumers

Heather Stapleton, PhD, is associate professor of environmental chemistry in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Additional Information

Air Date Dec 22, 2012

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