Studies show many couches made in the U.S. have fire-resistant toxins that could cause cancer

(WXYZ) - If you're sitting on a comfy couch right now, you may want to continue reading...

About 85% of all couches in the United States are thought to contain potential toxins that can be dangerous for humans to inhale.

What happens is furniture foam disintegrates into dust, and then that dust can be absorbed into your system.

The study also noted that many of the flame retardants found in the couches are associated with hormone disruption, neurological and reproductive toxicity, and cancer in hundreds of animal studies and some human studies too.

The most common chemical in the couches was phosphate, found in 42 couch samples. The chemical was added in 2011 to the state's Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

Some of these couches even contained pentaBDE, which has been banned around the world.

Furniture manufacturers that are part of the American Home Furnishings Alliance say the industry has been torn between competing demands to make fire-resistant products that are free of toxic chemicals.

Even though the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical makers, said, "the listing does not automatically mean a consumer's health is threatened," something is being done to make the couches safer.

An updated bulletin is being drafted that will require couch upholstery to resist catching fire when it comes into contact with something, such as a cigarette, that is smoldering, according to Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the Department of Consumer Affairs, which includes the state's furniture safety bureau.

The change would mean that many couches would meet the fire-safety standard as they are currently made, without adding chemicals to foam, Heimerich said.

Heimerich said a draft regulation is expected to be released in December for public comment. The new rule may take effect next summer.

Researchers say washing hands and dusting with a damp rag or mop are good ways to limit dust ingestion and reduce exposure.

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