The beautiful, comfortable furniture (couch/sofa) that you and your family enjoy sitting or sleeping on may be contributing to some serious health concerns, including cancer.

Ask a public health scientist about couches and cancer, and you’re sure to hear about a State of California law enacted back in 1975.  That law, called technical bulletin 117, or “TB117”, required furniture manufacturers to treat their products with flame retardant chemicals, mainly to protect against fires started by neglected cigarettes.

“Most manufacturers didn’t want to have two production lines—one for California and one for the rest of the country—so after the regulation was passed most furniture included flame retardants,” says Heather Stapleton, associate professor and program chair of environmental health at Duke University.  “Later on it was found that these flame retardants could migrate out of the products and into people.”

For the past decade, Stapleton has conducted a series of studies identifying the types and concentrations of flame-retardants used in consumer products.  She and others say there is ample animal and lab research to suggest these chemicals may promote a number of health concerns, including cancer.

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