Non-toxic tips to know before you buy furniture

Thanks, KGW! The local news is letting Portlanders know that they can now buy upholstered furniture made without toxic flame retardant chemicals.

For decades, furniture-makers who use polyurethane foam padding have had little choice but to soak it in toxic flame retardant chemicals. Now, the law has changed—and it’s easier both to make and to identify furniture that is free of these chemicals linked to memory, learning, IQ, hormonal system and fertility problems.

And thanks to a strong united voice from consumers and you’ll find a tag like the one pictured here in far more furniture stores, including Macy’s.

FR label

If you’re in the market for new furniture, you can cut down on your hazardous chemical load by asking a few key questions. Ask your retailer:

  • Is it made with added flame retardants? If your retailer doesn’t know, you can share with them the label above!
  • Is it made with stain-resistant chemicals? Some stain-resistant fabrics contain a class of chemicals called PFCs—the same stuff used in Teflon pans. These chemicals are linked to problems with growth and development. And they don’t stay in your couch: PFC’s are regularly found in household dust, where you can breathe or ingest them. You can usually opt out of the stain-resistant additive.
  • Is it certified as low-VOC? Furniture that is certified for having fewer “volatile organic compounds” are a little harder to come by. But what you’ll get is furniture made with glue, adhesive and finish that is less toxic, may be less stinky, and better for workers and the planet. See certifications and what they mean for furniture here.
But what if I’m not buying new furniture?

It’s not a good idea for everyone to instantly abandon their couches. So what else you can do?

  • Be an advocate. Sign a petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission asking for a ban on toxic flame retardants in children’s products and furniture. It’s great that stores are taking voluntary action—but shouldn’t all of products on the shelf be safe?
  • Be a vocal consumer. Check out the campaign for ways you can speak up and let retailers know that you are a shopper who values safe products.
  • Dust regularly, damp-mop, and wash your hands before eating. These are good habits regardless of what kind of furniture you have. Some tests of everyday household dust have shown as many as 60 different toxics that slough off our furnishings, drift in from outside, or are left over from cleaning and maintenance supplies. Controlling your exposure to dust is a healthy habit.
Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Living Green Featured Eco-Healthy Homes Toxics-Free Environments Media/PR/Statements Toxic Free Priorities Environmental Health Policy Water News Toxics in Water Series
Sort by

Non-Toxic Lice Treatments

November 2, 2019, 5:00 am


Three science mistakes that non-scientists make

post by Jen Coleman I’m a sucker for science. I am inclined to believe it. So when politics and science get whipped into a froth and poured over a debate about protecting health and the environment, I need a refresher on what science can and cannot do. Thanks, UC Berkley’s “Understanding Science” site, for the refresher! Here are thr
May 27, 2015, 10:33 pm


Huge Wins for Public Health! Oregon Lawmakers Act to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Cosmetics and Kids’ Products

In a resounding victory for the health and well-being of Oregonians, Oregon Environmental Council and coalition partners successfully advocated for the passage of two crucial environmental health bills in the 2023 legislative session.  Despite facing staunch opposition from the chemical industry, our coalition’s unwavering commitment and tenacity paid off, as we se
June 27, 2023, 2:46 pm


PRESS RELEASE: Lawmakers and Environmental Health Advocates Call for the Passage of a Suite of Toxics Bills During National Public Health Week

#gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */
April 4, 2023, 9:33 pm


Three kids playing in a sandbox

It’s National Public Health Week. Let’s tackle toxic chemicals!

This post was co-authored by Lisa Arkin, Executive Director, Beyond Toxics It’s National Public Health Week. Let’s tackle toxic chemicals! Every child deserves a safe environment to grow in that allows them to become strong and healthy and develop to their full potential. During National Public Health Week, it’s important to draw attention to the health
April 4, 2023, 8:47 pm


Personal Care Products Should Not Be Toxic

Updated on January 23, 2023 Consumers want to believe that their favorite brands of makeup, toiletries, and other personal care products are safe. But in reality, most of these products contain unregulated chemicals known to be toxic when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. It is estimated that there are over 10,000 chemicals in the beauty market today. OEC conducted a survey amongst
November 2, 2022, 5:59 pm


Tell outdoor retailer REI to take toxic ‘forever chemicals’ out of their apparel!

From waterproof jackets to boots, outdoor gear sold at REI and other retailers like Columbia Sportswear contains ‘
September 15, 2022, 10:57 pm


Modernizing the Toxic Free Kids Act

March 9, 2021, 7:26 pm


Photo of firefighter using foam to put out a car fire

Emerging toxics: PFAS in groundwater

By Jamie Pang South, Environmental Health Program Director, and Stacey Dalgaard, Water Outreach Director What is a “forever chemical”? Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, known collectively as PFAS, are a class of synthetic, man-made chemicals that do not break down in the environment and build up in our blood and organs. This has earned them the name “forever chemicals,” and they have now been
September 25, 2020, 5:48 pm


1 Reply to "Non-toxic tips to know before you buy furniture"