An Environment International study found that some older couches may be emitting a potentially carcinogenic dust.
For homeowners who also happen to be pet lovers, few things are more frustrating than the constant war between a sofa’s well-kept appearance and the furry friends who shed on it. But as it turns out, we may have more to fear from what our couches themselves are emitting—especially for fans of ’70s vintage design.
That revelation comes courtesy of newly published research in Environment International, which analyzed in-home dust samples to determine that sofas made between 1975 and at least 2013 have a tendency to disperse what can amount to carcinogenic dust. The culprit? Flame retardant (or “F.R.”) chemicals, which the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says may cause cancer in addition to posing other adverse health effects. In a handful of the dust samples collected across more than 20 households available for all four measurement periods of the study, multiple flame retardants were found in concentrations greater than 1,000 parts per million.
Somewhat surprisingly—given the state’s now stringent use of carcinogen warning labels—California is responsible for the widespread popularity of these flame-retardant chemicals. Back in 1975, the state passed a law mandating that the cushioning inside upholstered furniture must withstand 12 seconds of contact with an open flame. Hitting that benchmark required a significant use of chemical flame retardants.
Because California was such a sizable market, which also happened to import a hefty share of America’s furniture products, manufacturers essentially treated California’s flammability requirements (otherwise known as Technical Bulletin 117) as the de facto nationwide standard. Over the years, design breakthroughs to block oxygen and smother fires before they start made it so that such F.R. chemicals were no longer necessary, leading California to overturn its mandate in late 2013. Starting the following year, non-F.R.-laden upholstered furniture was much more readily available. However, all F.R.s have not been banned nationwide.
The good news is that reducing the amounts of carcinogenic F.R.s is simply a matter of redecorating. The study’s methodology centered on Northern California households with plans to replace an older couch. Its findings indicate that simply swapping out the offending sofa—or even just its upholstered cushions—is all it takes to breathe a little easier. The presence of flame retardants decreased significantly in samples collected six months after the old couches hit the curb. What is more, these positive changes in household dust persisted in samples taken both a year and 18 months later. The study’s discussion section also postulates that vacuuming (ideally using a HEPA filter) may have helped lower F.R. concentration upon couch replacement.
So what should you look out for in order to determine whether a sofa is F.R. free? As the research notes, furniture bearing a “TB117-2013” tag, which describes furniture manufactured after California changed its standards, is associated with lower flame retardant levels. Californians may find a second tag that explicitly requires the furniture to state if its material contains flame retardants, though it’s not required outside the state. It’s worth noting that the study drew from a relatively small sample size outside of a controlled laboratory environment. But if you or your client have been looking for one more reason to swap out that old sofa for something new, then well, nothing is more important than your health.
Credit: This article is by TIM NELSON and originally from AD. And here is the link: https://apple.news/AWGj2NabiRQ23wC-dwBAuVQ
Plan to refresh your home in 2021:
Need a Good HEPA Certified air-filter:
Coway Airmega 200M
Winix AM90 or AM80HomePod Mini
Or please feel free to email us for our design service.