Flame retardants hard to avoid at home
Most parents are forced to guess if toys, furniture and other household products are exposing their kids to toxic chemicals.
Heather Stapleton can figure it out in her laboratory.
Stapleton, an environmental chemist at Duke University, is one of the nation’s leading experts on flame retardants. Her research shows that it is difficult to avoid the chemicals, which she has found in furniture cushions and in breast-feeding pillows and diaper-changing pads.
“We detect these chemicals in almost every home, particularly in dust,” Stapleton said.
In her own home, Stapleton switched the living room from carpet to hardwood flooring in an attempt to keep dust from accumulating.
Not everyone can afford those dramatic steps. Nor is it easy to figure out the specific chemicals in products.
Furniture made with flame retardants often has a label that indicates it meets flammability standards. Stapleton cautions that she has found flame retardants in furniture that didn’t have such a label.