How Toxic is Your Furniture?

You buy organic food, you use non-toxic cleaning products, you have soft organic cotton sheets, you used amazing vegan and non-toxic paint, you even have houseplants to help clean the air in your home. Your place is a rockin’ clean, non-toxic environment, right? Well … Maybe … depends on what kind of furniture you have.

Your couch or bed may not burst into flames easily, but it could make you really sick

In 2012, Duke University, University of California Berkeley, and Boston University collaborated on research to establish the toxicity of flame retardants in furniture. They studied 102 couches bought between 1985 and 2010. Don’t know when you last bought a couch, but my beast falls into that range.

85 percent of the couches tested contained flame retardants, including Tris, which is a known human carcinogen that was banned from baby clothing back in the 1970s. Yikes. Here’s a good article that offers a lot of details on the study.

That’s just the beginning. There are VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) glues and other chemicals in the foam cushions that aren’t much friendlier, and I don’t think we have any idea what they do when they interact, either!

Is that oh-so-comfy memory foam mattress out-gassing and making you sick while you sleep?

Unless it is an organic mattress from a reputable company, most mattresses have chemical compounds that out-gas for many years. Just because you may not smell it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Mattresses — memory foam ones in particular — are loaded with a foam that spews isocyanate into your airspace. Doesn’t sound good, right? It isn’t. Studies show that isocyanate can cause headaches and respiratory problems. Not to mention the VOC glues and here we go with that flame retardant again … yup. No burning bed here. I suppose if you smoke in bed, this might be warranted …

So, what’s the alternative?

We talked to one company called EKLA Home, who makes clean and healthy AND eco-stylin furniture this week on the Green Divas Radio show. Listen to this show to hear what EKLA has to say about toxins in our furniture and homes, plus hear Green Diva Gina’s excellent Foodie-Phile segment on foods that detox and get her recipe for winter detoxing roasted beet salad. yum.


Julia R.
Julia R.1 years ago

Thank you for this very enlightening article that informs us of how bad our furniture can be for us and what we need to do about these important health issues!

Colin Hope
Colin Hope2 years ago

My sofa and Tv must be toxic....... every time I lay down to watch Tv, I find it difficult to get up again!!

Angela J.
Angela J.2 years ago

Thank you.

Carole R.
Carole R.2 years ago

Thank you.

PJ Chartrand
PJ C.2 years ago

Jeannet B.,I love your idea of having furniture labelled but I suspect we'll have as much luck with that as we've had with the asshats who refuse to truthfully label our food.

PJ Chartrand
PJ C.2 years ago

All my furniture predates 1964 so I only oil it in spring when I know I'll be able to keep the windows open and exhaust fans running for days on end but my dream is to replace my mattress with one of the organic ones made here in town. Saving pennies won't get me there any time soon so I'm going to be faced with choices to save up the 5 grand. I wonder if the city would mind if I skipped my taxes this year if I asked really, REALLY nice? ;o)

Sonali G.
Sonali G.2 years ago

My couch is a weird one and one that I would never have chosen myself, but beggars can't be choosers my partner's father bought it for us. I can't afford new stuff. It's made from recycled leather which put me in a dilemma when he offered it to us as a gift. What can you say other than "thank-you" ?
I found out recently that my mattress topper is not flame resistant. I bought it off Amazon which apparently has been selling many on the cheap which have no protection against flames. I don't know whether to be grateful or not after reading this!

Carol P.
Carol P.2 years ago

I needed a new couch years ago and searched for non-toxic alternatives. My favorite was from EKLA, but the price tag was way outside my budget. I ended up patching up my old one instead, hoping to get at least a few more years out of it, probably the best thing I could do when it comes to reducing toxin levels in my home and using the fewest resources.

There are plenty of companies that are trying to do the right thing, but until they manage to up their style level and reduce the price point, I'm afraid that people are going to be stuck with what they can afford.

Robert O.
Robert O.2 years ago

Thanks Meg.

Anne Knox
Anne K.2 years ago

thank you!