Simplifying Safely – The Harmful Effects of Flame Retardants


Simplifying doesn’t involve just throwing stuff out. Because when the last box of junk leaves your house, you need to turn back around and re-evaluate what’s left behind. Instead of questions like, “Do I really need this?” you need to investigate further – pulling apart all of the stitches in your couch and get to know what exactly you allow to cohabitate your life.

What started us on this new simplifying journey was the recent petition on Firefighter Janette Neves Rivera is asking for signatures to petition the Consumer Product Safety Commission for safer household products that are devoid of toxic flame retardants. Janette was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, a tragedy that her doctor believes is probably  related to her job as a firefighter.

Flame retardants are intended to resist the spread of fire, but unfortunately they also wage a war against us. Chemicals like chlorinated tris,  DecaBDE, and PBDE can cause cancer, developmental issues, reproductive difficulties and other health problems. They are especially harmful to children and can be found lurking in their favorite toys. A Chicago Tribune investigation has warned of the presence of carcinogens in our homes and has explained how these chemicals “migrate out of products into household dust ingested by people, especially children.”

I encourage you to sign Janette ‘s petition by July 1st. The Consumer Products Committee has put a deadline on receiving comments, so we only have a few days left to encourage safer products. But it doesn’t stop there. We can also replace our toxic household products with chemical free alternatives.

Josh and I are slowly making progress. Just today we received in the mail new organic American-made bed sheets, wash cloths and soapnuts from Rawganique. This company along with a slew of others (Condosofa, Ekla Home, ecoSelect Furniture, Panasonic, Apple, Acer, Nanao, Elzo, Sony-Ericsson) have committed to not using flame retardants or harmful chemicals.

The transition to less toxic household products hasn’t been easy. We’re starting to realize that these luxury organic items can be rare and expensive. It’s impossible to just chuck everything at once and buy new, and that’s why we need to continue to demand safer home products. There are also ways to minimize your exposure while you are saving to buy new items.

Environmental Working Group recommends removing misshapen and ripped foam items such as mattresses, couches and carpet padding that were produced before 2005 due to the presence of PBDE’s. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter will help to control the dust, along with keeping the windows open while cleaning.  Prevent children and pets from gnawing on electronics which can expose them to these chemicals and always wash your hands before eating. You should not re-upholster foam furniture and be cautious when removing old carpet that could contain these chemicals.

Below is a list of common household products that contain flame retardants and chemicals. You can also refer to the Environmental Working Group’s website and this cute video Toxic Chemicals in our Couches for tips on how to avoid these toxic chemicals. It’s actually exciting to buy safer products. I can already tell the difference in our bed sheets and I can’t wait buy the matching comforter and  flame retardant-free mattress.

Sign the petition here.


Products Containing Fire retardants:

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