The Sitting Dead

Burning couch Kalliopi Monoyios unstitches the upholstery:

[In addition to the foam and air in our couches], there is a third component very few of us know about: our couch foam is up to 11% by weight flame retardant chemicals. And according to two new studies released today in Environmental Science and Technology, these chemicals are not necessarily guests you’d have invited into your home for Thanksgiving or otherwise. One such chemical, Tris, was banned from children’s clothing in the 1970s because of concern over its ability to cause cancer, one is the globally-banned pentaBDE, a known hormone disruptor and neurotoxin in animals. And still others are completely untested for safety, despite structural similarities to known carcinogens and other toxic substances.

Also, the flame retardants don’t really work:

[The chemicals don’t] reduce risk of house fires [or] increase our safety in the event of one. In the latter case, they may actually increase our risk; most fire deaths are due to smoke inhalation, not complications from burns, and flame retardants actually increase the amount of smoke and toxic gases. 

Handy infographic here.

(Photo by Caroline Sanstead)