More and more evidence is emerging indicating that flame retardant chemicals that are being sprayed on couches, mattresses, infant mattresses, carpets, drapery and even your fake christmas tree, may be seriously hazardous to your health! These chemicals, which are now known to be cancer causing and may affect children’s growth and brain development, were introduced in the 70’s as a method for potential fire prevention.
What you may not know is that many firefighters, doctors and other health advocates have been calling for a ban on these flame retardant chemicals for years. Why would firefighters call for a ban on flame retardant chemicals? This may sound counterintuitive to you at first but simple logic tells you that if cancer causing chemicals are burning in a fire, breathing them into your lungs is a terrible idea. Firefighters are the first line of defense, risking their lives with every encounter and unnecessary exposure to cancerous chemicals based on propaganda is absurd.
Former firefighter and legislator Ken Donnelly, who once advocated the bill to ban flame retardant chemicals, died of brain cancer at the age of 66. Jay Fleming, another firefighter pushing the ban on these chemicals, blamed flame retardant chemicals as the major cause of Donnelly’s death.
You can read more about that here:
How effective are flame retardants at preventing fires? According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and a few other groups, flame retardants aren’t that effective and the risks versus the benefits need to be reconsidered. By law flame retardants needed to be able to withstand a flame for 12 seconds, yes, that’s it, 12 seconds. So if they’re not even that effective at preventing fires and they've been known to be cancerous, why are flame retardants still being put on household items? Great question, let me know if you get an answer.
There are many different types of flame retardant chemicals that can be used by manufactures, some are known to be worse than others but all are generally known to be harmful. you can read about the 9 most common types of flame retardants and how you can test for them here:
Are flame retardant chemicals really that bad or are people just exaggerating? What does the research say:
Duke University teamed up with Environmental Working Group in a research study on the effects of flame retardant chemicals and the results may shock you a bit. In the study, 26 children and their 22 mothers were tested for potential levels of flame retardant chemicals in their urine. The results of the study revealed levels of chemical biomarkers indicating exposure TDCIPP, a known cancer-causing fire retardant, in every single mother and child. The levels of the biomarker were found to be significantly higher in some children, most likely due to common hand to mouth behavior and the fact that kids like to play on the floor and get dirty (Please don’t stop your kids from playing on the floor). In extreme cases, the levels were 23 times higher than the mother!
According to studies, flame retardants may cause adverse health effects/ impairments in:
- Endocrine Function
- Immune Function
- Cognitive Function and Brain Development in Children
- Reproductive Function
- Nervous System Function
Studies have also shown that exposure to flame retardant chemicals may impede thyroid function, increase risk of diabetes and long-term exposure puts you at high risk for cancer.
According to scientists, the biggest exposure to flame retardant chemicals seems to come through chemical accumulation from household and office dust.
Below I list links to some of these studies for your own educational benefit. You can review the evidence for yourself and make an educated choice about your health and the wellbeing of your family.
- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0045653517309438
- https://books.google.com/books? hl=en&lr=&id=uSoxKFCENDwC&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=evidence+based+health+effects+of+flame+retardant+chemicals&ots=bwlhLyDWxo&sig=oyZXIuMi3_wrzWvi6Yd0vay984g# v=onepage&q=evidence%20based%20health%20effects%20of%20flame%20retardant%20chemicals&f=false
- https://greensciencepolicy.org/docs/flame-retardant-additives-as- possible-cancer-hazards.pdf
- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/ S1438463910000490
So what can we do about these chemicals, do we even have a choice? Of course, there’s always a choice. You could be outspoken among peers, politicians and local government officials, letting them know you don’t agree with these practices and set standards but there’s something even more powerful and effective that you may not realize. We live in a consumer driven nation and in a consumer driven nation, the consumer has the power. With every purchase you make, you vote with your dollar. If we collectively refuse to buy products with flame retardant chemicals or other dangerous substances, manufacturers will have no choice but to comply.
But are there alternative household products that are chemical free? Yes, of course there are. You better believe the mattress in our bedroom and the couch that we’re about to buy are chemical free. Several manufacturers in the last few years have come out with completely chemical flame retardant free lines of furniture and mattresses.
For your convenience, here are a few:
- Ashley Furniture
- Pottery Barn has a certified non-toxic line that tests products for harsh chemicals and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds- those will be saved for another post)
- Ikea has some options that are free of flame retardants but they do use particle board that contains formaldehyde and VOC’s from the chemical glues.
- Crate and Barrel has no flame retardant products
While these manufacturers may have removed flame retardant chemicals from their furniture lines, many of them still use particle board that contains formaldehyde and VOC’s from the chemical glues. If you aren’t sure if the product contains these chemicals, the best thing you can do is look it up on the manufactures site or through an internet search. I wouldn’t trust the sales person at the store.
Beyond these major manufactures, there are plenty of smaller manufacturers offering high quality, completely chemical free products, including organic lines. A quick internet search should lead you to some worth while products that are non-hazardous to your health.
If you know you already have furniture in your house that is known to contain these chemicals, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of exposure. According to scientists, the biggest exposure to flame retardant chemicals seems to come from chemical accumulation in dust form. If you are diligent with cleaning, especially with dust removal, you can greatly reduce the risk of household exposure. Although, I would be careful with dust removal because you don’t want to breath in those chemicals. I would highly recommend looking for the aforementioned chemical free furniture options in the future.
Hopefully you found this article to be helpful — Here at Wolf Moon we are passionate about health and wellness and we hope you are willing to share the passion with us!
Written by John Laznovsky “The Wolf of Wellness”