Children’s Furniture Contains Harmful Flame Retardant Chemicals
Popular characters hide toxic chemicals in foam in kids’ furniture –exposure may cause health problems for our children
November 20, 2013, Anchorage, Alaska – Independent testing found flame retardants in foam furniture for children purchased in 13 states and in Canada, including Alaska. Fire safety scientists are concerned because flame retardant chemicals do not provide fire safety benefits in furniture, yet exposure to these chemicals has been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, infertility and other serious health problems.
“A Spiderman chair that we purchased at a Walmart in Anchorage was tested and it has a harmful flame retardant called Firemaster 550 in it,” says Maricarmen Cruz-Guilloty, Environmental Health and Justice Coordinator from Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “Arctic Indigenous peoples already carry a high burden of many of the other toxic flame retardants in their bodies. Exposure to these chemicals is linked with thyroid disease, learning and developmental disorders, reproductive problems, and certain cancers. Alaska also has the highest rates of birth defects in the nation. Our children should not be exposed to these chemicals. Kids are especially vulnerable to these chemicals.” These persistent chemicals are carried via wind and ocean currents and concentrate in Arctic wildlife and people. People living in the north are also exposed through indoor air and dust and may have higher exposures because homes are closed in a for a greater part of the year.
Tiffany Immingan, a Saint Lawrence Island Yupik youth is concerned: “I cannot believe stores such as Walmart are selling children products with chemicals that harm children’s health. People assume that when they buy products in the store, those products have been tested for safety. This study shows that this is not the case. I worry that the toys I buy for my two nephews might contain toxic chemicals. We already have too much cancer in Alaska and we should be doing everything we can to stop exposing children to cancer-causing chemicals like flame retardants. “
“Most parents would never suspect that their children could be exposed to toxic flame retardant chemicals when they sit on a Mickey Mouse couch, but our report shows that children’s foam furniture can carry hidden health hazards,” said Judy Levin, co-author of the report Playing on Poisons-Harmful Flame Retardants in Children’s Furniture released by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH).
Soon, California’s new flammability rule, TB 117-2013 will go into effect. Companies may use the new standard to comply with the new rule immediately, but will have until January 1, 2015 before they are required to comply. ACAT and CEH hope many companies will switch to safer, flame-retardant free products quickly. Even the Business and Institutional Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) stated, “…we believe the risks associated with the use of these