Chicago Tribune - Dangerous for kids' pajamas, safe for sofas?

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November 27, 2012
By Michael Hawthorne

Flame retardant removed from sleepwear amid health concerns is increasingly used in furniture

Excerpt: More than three decades after manufacturers stopped making children's pajamas with a flame retardant suspected of causing cancer, new research suggests the same chemical has become the most widely used fire-resistant compound in upholstered furniture sold throughout the United States.

The study, led by Duke University chemist Heather Stapleton, found that foam samples from more than 40 percent of 102 couches bought from 1985 to 2010 contained the chemical, known as chlorinated tris or TDCPP. More than half of the couches bought since 2005 were treated with it.

Overall, 85 percent of the couches contained flame retardants, which escape over time and settle in household dust that people ingest, especially young children who play on the floor and frequently put their hands into their mouths. Several of the flame retardants detected in the new study have been linked to hormone disruption, developmental problems, lower IQ and impaired fertility.