How to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals

There are thousands of chemicals in our furniture, electronics, cleaning products, building materials, clothing, etc., and only a fraction of them are regulated. Yet growing evidence links many of these substances (stain and water repellents, flame retardants, antimicrobials and others) to diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease, immune system dysfunction and effects on the cognitive development of children. The Green Science Policy Institute has advice on how to avoid some of these most common chemicals:

  • When purchasing upholstered furniture, look for a TB 117-2013 label indicating that the item does not contain flame retardants.
  • Replace upholstered furniture that has a TB 117 label, which indicates flame retardants.
  • Furniture and children’s products filled with polyester or wool instead of foam are unlikely to contain added flame retardants.
  • To reduce dust levels indoors, vacuum with a HEPA filter, damp mop and dust with a damp cloth.
  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating or preparing food.
  • Avoid using glued padding made from recycled polyurethane foam or waste material.
  • Tell manufacturers, retailers and government agencies that you want products without flame retardants.
  • Choose carpets and textiles without water and stain repellents (known as PFAS), which are often sprayed on after the product is manufactured.
  • Beware of products labeled “PFOA-free,” a chemical in the PFAS family, as they often contain similar chemicals instead.
  • Avoid personal care products with “perfluor”, “polyfluor”, indicating the presence of PFAS and “PTFE” (PFAS) chemicals on the label.

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