In the last few years awareness about the toxicity in flame retardant chemicals in furniture has grown tremendously. Public health advocates, organizations, doctors, environmentalists and journalists have been sounding the alarm that the chemicals added to furniture are far more harmful than the flame they might extinguish– and that there are much safer alternatives. This groundbreaking series from the Chicago Tribune called into questions the shady dealings of the companies that make and market these chemicals– and equated their practices with those of Big Tobacco as distorting and deceptive.
Companies are taking notice.
A few months ago Safer Chemicals Healthy Families sent a letter to the nation’s biggest furniture retailer, Ashley Furniture, urging them to phase out toxic flame retardants from furniture that they sell.
They wrote back and said that they are phasing out toxic flame retardants in their furniture! But they haven’t disclosed when these chemicals will be eliminated…
We should thank them for this commitment but ask that they give a clear time frame for when the chemicals will be removed on furniture that is for sale. Many families save up for years for a couch– and would not want to buy one before these harmful chemicals are removed. Customers want and have a right to know what they are buying. I certainly won’t be buying any furniture until I can be assured it does not have these dangerous chemicals inside that could harm my family.
Just like consumers led the way in pressuring companies to eliminate BPA in feeding and drinking gear, we need to encourage Ashley to set a timeline and be an example to other companies. They are the number one manufacturer of furniture in the U.S. and this could mean a that other companies could follow suit quickly to keep up with the competition.
What do to if you still have old furniture containing flame retardant chemicals (like most of us)?
- Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum. No fun, but effective because the chemicals can adhere to . This makes it easy for children to ingest.
- Wash hands often and encourage your kids to do so as well.
Slowly replace items containing flame retardant chemicals. Maybe Ashley furniture if we know when it is safe to buy!
IMPORTANT UPDATE – BIG NEWS!
In a win for consumers nationwide and our Mind the Store campaign, Ashley Furniture has announced a timeframe for banning toxic flame retardant chemicals in all of their furniture! This is a big victory as Ashley is the largest manufacturer and retailer of furniture in the country. This will have a huge impact in driving the furniture sector away from these harmful chemicals.
The story broke in a terrific Chicago Tribune, after Ashley sent us this updated statement:
“Ashley’s upholstered furniture is designed and labeled to comply with California’s TB 117-2013, and we are committed to designing our upholstered furniture with the goal of meeting the requirements of TB-117-2013 without the use of flame retardant chemicals. To that end, Ashley is pleased to announce that after working closely with our supply chain, upholstered furniture manufactured by or for us as of January 1, 2015, does not use flame retardant chemicals. In addition, all our upholstered furniture, no matter where it is shipped in the US, includes a label that complies with the requirements of California’s SB-1019.” (emphasis added)
We applaud Ashley for doing what’s right for the health of our families and homes.