Industry News




 

11/28/2012

Toxic “Cancer Couches” Discovered

 
Couches have come under fire for containing toxic carcinogens.

Do you know what’s in those old couches hanging around your lounge or lobby?  Are you sure?  More than half of all couches tested in a Duke University-led study contained potentially toxic or untested chemical flame retardants that may pose risks to human health.

Among the chemicals detected was "Tris," a chlorinated flame retardant that is considered a probable human carcinogen based on animal studies.

"Tris was phased out from use in baby pajamas back in 1977 because of its health risks, but it still showed up in 41% of the couch foam samples we tested," says Heather Stapleton, associate professor of environmental chemistry at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

More manufacturers in recent years are treating their couches' foam padding with chemical flame retardants to adhere to California Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117), she said. TB 177 requires all residential furniture sold in California to withstand a 12-second exposure to a small open flame without igniting, to help reduce deaths and injuries from accidental home fires. Over the years, the statewide standard essentially has become a de facto national standard, due to the economic importance of the California market.

In many cases, the manufacturer may not know what chemicals have been used. Most manufacturers buy their foam padding from a vendor who, in turn, buys the chemicals used to treat it from another vendor. The identity of the chemical flame retardants often gets lost along the way, or is protected under law as proprietary.

Stapleton and her colleagues analyzed 102 polyurethane foam samples from couches purchased for home use in the United States between 1985 and 2010. They published their findings in a peer-reviewed study released Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In addition to finding Tris, the tests revealed that 17 percent of the foam samples contained the flame-retardant pentaBDE, which is banned in 172 countries and 12 U.S. states and was voluntarily phased out by U.S manufacturers in 2005.

PentaBDEs are long-lasting chemicals that over time migrate into the environment and accumulate in living organisms. Studies show they can disrupt endocrine activity and affect thyroid regulation and brain development. Early exposure to them has been linked to low birth weight, lowered IQ and impaired motor and behavioral development in children.

PentaBDE and Tris were the only flame retardants found in couches purchased before 2005. After 2005, Tris was the most common flame retardant found. In addition, Stapleton and her colleagues identified two new flame-retardant chemical mixtures in more recently purchases couches for which there is little or no health data available.

"Overall, we detected flame-retardant chemicals in 85 percent of the couches we tested and in 94 percent of those purchased after 2005," says Stapleton. "More than half of all samples, regardless of the age of the couch, contained flame retardants that are potentially toxic or have undergone little or no independent testing for human health risks."

"If a couch has a California TB 117 label, you can all but guarantee it contains chemical flame retardants," says Stapleton. "But this is where labeling requirements get confusing: the lack of a TB 117 label on a couch does not guarantee the absence of chemical flame retardants. It's not that cut-and-dried."

Stapleton says that so many new proprietary chemical flame retardants have been introduced in recent years that it has become very difficult for scientists to identify them all or determine their presence consumer products.

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

 


 
09/19/2014

New regulations from the DOE would improve commercial air conditioner efficiency by as much as 30%. 

09/18/2014

A new study suggests that the installed cost of photovoltaic solar power continues to drop in the U.S.

09/17/2014

A new technology developed at Rice University effectively deices glass surfaces while remaining transparent for radio frequency transmission.

09/16/2014

The USGBC and American Chemistry Council have put aside their differences to work together on new improvements to the LEED certification system. 

09/15/2014

Researchers have developed a new process to help cloud computing systems use less energy while continuing to provide high levels of data services.

09/12/2014

Researchers have found the main factors that influence the amount and type of building damage caused by various types of salts. 

09/11/2014

A new study has demonstrated that proactive ergonomic training can decrease worker discomfort and increase productivity. 

09/10/2014

The University of Utah has upgraded its historic Dumke Health Professions Education building to save an impressive 40% on energy costs.

09/09/2014

Hoping to build on LEED's success, PEER evaulates the performance and modernization of electric grids. 

09/08/2014

The USGBC has developed a new tool to help streamline the LEED certification process. 

09/05/2014

Researchers have developed a fluorescent lamp that emits Wi-Fi signals to allow connectivity throughout buildings.

09/04/2014

Tests show effective measures for reducing earthquake damage to computer servers. 

09/03/2014

Health costs drop by half as a result of environmental regulations.

09/02/2014

A new study challenges the idea that sparse workplaces produce happier, more productive employees.

08/29/2014

New tool from FEMA helps facility managers prepare for and mitigate the effects of nonstructural earthquake damage. 

08/28/2014

Is your building's exterior prepared for consistent snowstorms?

08/27/2014

Researchers have developed wearable, customizable technology to handle access control at busy hotels. 

08/26/2014

A new study shows that hotels which are LEED certified bring in more revenue than their non-certified competitors. 

08/25/2014

Policies designed to reduce carbon emissions have the added benefit of increasing air quality, which could pay for the reduction policies themselves. 

08/22/2014

Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a luminescent solar concentrator that is as transparent as glass. 

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