Toxic Chemicals in Your Home: New Study Shows Hazardous Flame Retardants in Couches on the Rise

February 13, 2013 @ 10:00am (AKST)

Listen to a discussion of a peer-reviewed study by Duke University which tested over 100 polyurethane foam samples from couches across the U.S. and found that 85% contained potentially toxic or untested flame retardants. Forty-one percent tested positive for chlorinated Tris, a probable human carcinogen, which was banned from baby pajamas decades ago. The study found an increase in the use of flame retardants in newer couches, despite no data demonstrating fire safety benefit from their use.

Weak federal laws have allowed toxic flame retardants on the market with limited health and safety information. Manufacturers often do not even know what chemicals have been used in the foam padding they buy from their vendors.Join lead author of the study, Dr. Heather M. Stapleton, for a discussion of the study’s findings and health effects of toxic flame retardants, and Pamela Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics for an update on what’s happening at the state, federal, and international levels to halt exposure to toxic flame retardants. We will also discuss how these chemicals are accumulating in the Arctic and how they might affect human and environmental health.

Featured speakers

Heather M. Stapleton PhD, Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. Stapleton’s experience lies in the fate and transformation of organic contaminants in aquatic systems and indoor environments. Her research focuses on several types of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and brominated flame retardants, with a focus on polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

Pamela Miller, is founder and director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. Ms. Miller is known for her work to prompt state, national, and international chemicals policy reform to protect environmental and human health in the Arctic. She is a leader in Coming Clean, a national network of groups concerned about chemicals policy reform, and has been instrumental in prompting the ban of toxic chemicals worldwide. She also serves as principal investigator for community-based research projects in the Arctic supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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