Everyone is afraid of fire, but research has proven that the Fire Retardant (FR) chemicals used on UK furniture is harmful to our health and environment. FR's, many carcinogenic, migrate as dust particles from furniture into our homes to be ingested by adults, children and pets. It is skin permeable and many are endocrine disruptors which can cause obesity and behavioral problems in children and even cancer.
Connections have been made between fire retardants and human health:
- Endocrine disruption
- Hormone problems
- Children's behavioural problems
- Thyroid and other cancers
These chemicals are banned or limited in the US and Europe, but in the UK we still use vast quantities (kilos) in furniture. Growing evidence shows FR's don't even save lives and actually produce deadly levels of smoke. When burnt the hydrogen cyanide gas produced significantly reduce the time to escape from a house fire. Cancer rates in fireman are also linked to the increase in the use of these chemicals.
Apart from the human and animal health concerns, there are also major environmental problems connected with these chemicals.
This information is slowly becoming available to the UK public through the internet and more up-to-date research is taking place across the world. Furniture is the highest source of fire retardants in the home. Fire retardant chemicals are found in every living being on earth.
The most pressing is the disposal of treated furniture. The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). This means that from next year (2018) fabric and furniture with FR's will need to be incinerated at very high temperatures. There are currently only three incinerators in this country capable of doing this with resulting concerns about fly ash (Greenpeace).