Your Health: 11-28-12 Health problems and your furniture

Could your furniture contribute to health problems including a risk of cancer and hormone problems?

Research by Duke University and University of California, Berkeley indicates evidence of a link.

They say many couches sold in the United States contain toxic chemical flame retardants that have been linked with cancer, hormone disruption and neurological damage.

Researchers tested 102 couches and found that 85 percent of them were treated with chemical flame retardants.{} Forty-one percent of the couches contained a cancer-causing flame retardant, chlorinated Tris (TDCPP), which was removed from baby pajamas in the 1970s.{} Seventeen percent contained the worldwide-banned chemical, pentaBDE.

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) said in the statement, "Over the past 25 years, the incidence of household fires involving upholstered furniture in the United States has been reduced by more than 85 percent."{} The AHFA added, part of that success has been based on the incorporation of flame-retardant chemicals in upholstery.

The study appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.