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Environmental Group Says Californians' Couches Could Be Toxic

An environmental group says most Californians' furniture contains toxic chemicals. The group says the chemicals can cause cancer and other problems. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce has details.

Environmental Group Says Californians' Couches Could Be Toxic

An environmental group says most Californians' furniture contains toxic chemicals. The group says the chemicals can cause cancer and other problems. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce has details.

Friends of the Earth says many of the couches and other furniture are treated with halogenated fire retardants. The group says those chemicals have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and neurological and reproductive dysfunction.

Sara Schedler with Friends of the Earth says people are exposed to the chemicals by inhaling dust. 

Schedler : So when you sit down on a piece of furniture that's been treated with these chemicals the compounds are released into the air. They're invisible of course. They settle into household dust. And when we kick up that household dust we breathe in the chemicals.

She says there are safer fire retardant alternatives that don't use those chemicals. The group's report is called "Killer Couches." It's based on a sample of 350 pieces of household furniture in California stores and homes.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.