Foam does not care about you
by Jen-Lan Lou, A Circle Home,
Furniture Restoration for Your Eco-Modern Lifestyle
Find out why that comfy sofa or chair may be doing you more harm than good.
You want to relax after a long day's work so you take a deep breath and throw yourself on the couch. The squishy, comfy feeling from sinking into the foam mattress seems just as cozy as the fuzzy feeling you got from that cute text earlier in the day.
The problem is that the furniture foam that cushions your body is a risk to your health.
Flame retardant foam contains PBDEs, neurotoxins that effect development particularly in children and developing fetuses.
Flame retardants were initially added to furniture foam to counteract the non-self-extinguishing cigarette. The HBO documentary ‘The Toxic Hot Seat’ (Home Box Office, 2013) illuminated the dangers of foam, from causing deathly cancer in firemen to creating neurological and developmental damage mostly in developing fetuses, children, and Americans with hypothyroidism.
An environmental working group noted that “Scientists say most Americans may already carry levels of PBDEs that cause serious nerve damage in lab animals.” (Toxic Fire Retardants Building Up Rapidly In Ca Fish, EWG [Environmental Working Group], July 10, 2013). Ultimately, a documentary fueled by public opinion forced California to change Technical Bulletin 117 so that furniture manufacturers were no longer required to use flame retardants.
For the same cost of buying a brand new couch, you can reupholster your old frame by using materials that won’t harm your health.
However, just because you don’t see the white TB117 label, does not mean your couch is free of flame retardants. Foam is used in most commercially manufactured upholstered furniture like your couch, your office chair, your car, and Grandpa’s old ‘TV watchin’ chair’. Who knows what you are sitting on? Plop yourself on the couch, and poof--out come a million dust particles that carry flame retardants into your lungs and throughout the house settling wherever until the next swish comes by.
It is hard to believe that what you sit on could lower your unborn child’s IQ, or, cause male infertility and birth defects. Breathing air, like lounging on the couch or walking down the hallway, is normal everyday life that we should not have to worry about.
Luckily we don’t have to fear the foam. For the same cost of buying a brand new couch, you can reupholster your old frame by using materials that won’t harm your health.
Plastics were officially a part of everyday living by the 1950s, but the best materials to use today were widely used before then. Materials like natural rubber latex, coconut coir, and kapok fiber are inherently non-toxic and actually make for a luxurious seat. More importantly, they last longer and score major eco-friendly points since they are also sustainable and non-petroleum.
Realistically, we may not be able to eliminate toxins and health problems, but we certainly can reduce exposure. Local businesses like A Circle Home specialize in green upholstery so that we can better protect our homes and everyday life.
what makes furniture environmentally friendly
learn about the sustainable materials that make furniture healthy. Here are a couple: