Analysis: Majority of Children's Furniture Contains Toxic Chemicals

Dec 2, 2013


A new analysis of furniture made specifically for children has revealed that the majority of it contains toxic flame retardant chemicals.

The study was conducted by the non-profit Center for Environmental Health and researchers at Duke University. 

They analyzed 42 children’s couches and chairs from big box retailers, and found that 90 percent of them contain flame retardant chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems.

Advocacy groups argue these flame retardants don’t do what they’re supposed to do—namely, prevent fires—and have been linked to cancers, infertility and developmental problems.

Elizabeth Crowe of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation was involved in this study, as well as an earlier one that found levels of the chemicals in regular couches. She says the presence of toxic flame retardants in children’s furniture is even more concerning.

“Children are more vulnerable - they spend more time on the floor,” Crowe said. “They put more things into their mouths. And as a result of that, plus they just breathe at a more rapid pace than adults, they tend to have a much higher body burden of these chemicals.”

Crowe’s group and others are advocating for a ban on chemicals that can’t be proven safe.

One way to reduce the risk to children from exposure to flame retardants is to vacuum furniture frequently to remove any dust that might build up.