ACSH staffers couldn t help but shake their heads in disappointment this morning at a recent New York Times article questioning the safety of our furniture. The piece, entitled How Dangerous is Your Couch, is an extremely long recounting of Dr. Arlene Blum s crusade against the toxic chemicals found in furniture.
Dr. Blum, co-author of the journal article that spearheaded the removal of so-called toxic flame retardants from children s pajamas, is now taking on Technical Bulletin 117. Issued by the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation, the regulation mandates that the foam found inside upholstered furniture be able to withstand exposure to a small flame for 12 seconds without igniting. Thus flame retardants most notably the one called tris were added to the foam at the point of manufacture, in order to provide people with extra time to escape in case of a fire.
Due in part to Dr. Blum s anti-chemical crusade, California Governor Jerry Brown directed the Bureau in June to begin revising TB 117 so that chemical flame retardants were no longer mandated for use in the production of furniture. A draft of the new regulation was released in July and could be in effect by this time next year.
It s terrible how these agenda-driven campaigns persist in scaring consumers, says ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross. Flame retardants have saved many lives, and to claim that they are endocrine disruptors is junk science at its finest.