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Science & Technology

Study Finds Toxic Flame Retardant In Many Sofas

Your favorite couch or sofa could be dangerous for your health. More than half of all couches tested in a Duke University-led study were found to contain potentially toxic flame retardants. One of the main offenders: a chemical called "Chorlinated Tris". It's a probable carcinogen that was used in children's pajamas back in the 70's. It was phased out due to its health risks. Lead researcher Heather Stapleton is associate professor of environmental chemistry at Duke's Nicholas School:

Heather Stapleton: "I just hope our study is informative and makes people aware that these chemicals are out there.   We know some of these flame retardants do migrate out of these products  and accumulate in indoor dust and indoor air, so the general population is chronically exposed to these chemicals every day. It's particularly worrisome for children, because they receive higher exposure to chemicals found in dust - yet we know very little about potential health effects."

Stapleton says in many cases the manufacturer doesn't even know what chemicals have been used. Chemical companies are not required by law to make that information public or to put out warnings about known health risks. Stapleton says it's also not clear according to studies whether these so-called flame retardants actually provide any safety benefit

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