Well Being

Warning: Your Couch May Contain Cancer-Causing Toxic Chemicals

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Well this is just plain disruptive to all of my naps: A new study found that more than one-third of all couches in the U.S. contain potential toxins that can cause all sorts of health problems, including cancer.

Published in Environmental Science & Technology, researchers at Duke University and University of California-Berkeley studied what's really on our couches, and what they found was disturbing: 85% of the 104 couches tested were treated with chemical flame retardants–the same chemicals that can be toxic. Of those, 41% contained chlorinated TDCPP (tris), and another 17% contained pentaBDE, a chemical that has been banned around the world. And we're laying our heads on these and inhaling the fumes from them? Grrreat.

James Klaunig, environmental health professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health, told ABC News that these are the same chemicals that were deemed too dangerous in the past:

In the 70s, tris was brought up when companies were using it in baby clothes and pajamas for very young children. There was concern about the toxicity. It was removed from the products.

It doesn't make any sense that these chemicals were considered too harmful for clothing and yet they continue to use them elsewhere.

The study went on to state that many of the flame retardants found on couches are “associated with hormone disruption, neurological and reproductive toxicity and/or cancer in hundreds of animal studies and a number of human studies.”

Klaunig said that further testing is needed to determine how much exposure is really harmful to us:

Basically, these compounds are toxic and have been shown to cause cancer in rodents. What needs to be defined is how much actual individuals are accumulating in their system from the use of these materials. How much do we actually get in our blood system or body system from using the couches?

While they figure that out, I'll be napping elsewhere.

Photo: shutterstock.com