KQED This Week: Is your couch toxic?


They’re in our homes and offices to make us more comfortable: sofas and chairs. But chemicals embedded in this same furniture could be hazardous to your health, says chemist Arlene Blum. If it contains polyurethane foam — and that includes most commonly sold furniture — it also contains substantial quantities of chemical flame retardants, in accordance with California state law TB 117. Blum says these chemicals are dangerous and campaigned successfully for their removal from children’s sleepwear in 1977. Now she’s back and fighting the same chemicals’ use in a range of other consumer products.