You can probably find flame-retardant chemicals all over your house, within your couch, your carpet, your mattresses and even your children’s car seats. And though fire retardants can be helpful, they are actually quite toxic and can cause harm to your family’s health.
Flame retardants have been linked to cancer, hormone deficiencies, and neurological and developmental problems, and children are extremely vulnerable to their harmful effects.
A study published by the Environmental Science & Technology revealed that 80% of 100 randomly tested children’s products were covered in these harmful chemicals.
Between 2009 and 2013, the chemical industry agreed to remove polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a harmful flame retardant, from various products – but a study conducted by scientists at the Environmental Working Group and Duke University revealed that many manufacturers have simply replaced PBDEs with similar chemicals that are just as toxic.
As much as we want to protect our families, these toxic chemicals are still widely found in our furniture and in our children’s products that families use and come into contact with every day.
It’s clear that these harmful chemicals don’t belong in our homes, so what can you do to minimize your family’s exposure to them?
As a parent, you know that your children need a lot of stuff as they grow up, and while second-hand items are great for meeting those needs, it may be best to purchase newer items for their safety.
Many products made before 2005 are notorious for containing fire retardants, so try looking for and purchasing products that were made after 2014. Manufacturers have recently been allowed to create products free of fire retardants, and due to a higher demand, you should have better access to these safer products.
Many product labels will indicate if an item like furniture or upholstery contains fire-retardant chemicals. Check your products around the house, and if anything has the TB 117 notice on its label, it contains fire retardants. When buying new products, consider purchasing items that contain less flammable materials such as leather, wool and cotton to avoid further exposure to toxic chemicals.
Even as you shop for new and safer products, your home will most likely still contain harmful fire-retardant chemicals. Because of this, it’s important to keep your home clean in order to reduce your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals.
If your vacuum has a HEPA filter, you’ll be able to remove a significant amount of tiny dirt and dust particles that contain fire retardants. Also, make sure to clean surfaces around the house with a microfiber cloth to help remove dust and dirt. Last, remember to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating, so you don’t inadvertently ingest harmful chemicals you may have come into contact with.
What are your thoughts on fire-retardant chemicals? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.