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Toxic Flame Retardants Found in Majority of Sofas across the United States

EMSL Analytical offers testing solutions for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) to help prevent unnecessary exposure.


According to Time - Health and Family, the Environmental Science & Technology journal has published a new study suggesting hazardous chemicals from flame retardants are present in majority of American homes. These chemicals are added to furniture, carpeting, and electronic devices to decrease the risk of fire, but have been linked to cancer and hormone disruption.

Researchers analyzed sofa cushions across the United States, discovering that 85 percent tested positive for a flame-retardant chemical known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). PBDEs are used in many common household materials including furniture foam, plastics for TV cabinets, electronics, wire insulation, back coatings for draperies and upholstery, and plastics for computers and small appliances.

These chemicals are put into household materials due to their ability to slow ignition and rate of fire growth, which increases escape time in the event of a fire. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) PBDEs may cause liver toxicity, thyroid toxicity, and neurodevelopmental toxicity.

“Time has reported that these flame-retardants were originally put into cushions because chemical regulations permit manufacturers to produce and sell products with minimal safety tests,” states Michael Chapman, EMSL’s Chemistry Laboratory Manager. “EMSL Analytical, Inc. provides quality testing solutions for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) at our fully equipped and accredited laboratories throughout the U.S. to help prevent unnecessary exposure.”

To learn more about testing for PBDEs, indoor air quality (IAQ) or other environmental issues please visit, call (800) 220-3675 or email .

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a full service testing company providing quality lab services under the same private ownership since 1981. Including the corporate lab facility in Cinnaminson, NJ, EMSL Analytical operates over thirty laboratories nationwide in the US and Canada. We provide analytical services for environmental, indoor air quality (IAQ), industrial hygiene, forensics and materials science, consumer products, food safety, PCR, pharmaceutical, asbestos, lead, and radiological samples. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies.



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