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Buy a Nontoxic Couch

furniture interior design Jun 06, 2018

by editorial team


Do you snuggle with your kids on the couch and read a book?

How about sitting down to watch t.v. for a bit before bedtime?

Or, even better, if you can grab a few extra moments to yourself in your busy day.

Ahh, can you feel your body sinking into the couch now?

What you’re sinking into and sitting on likely contains flame retardants.

Are there flame retardants in your couches?

Standard couches contain flame retardants. In fact, these flame retardants have been in couches (and other items) for decades. While the federal government has plans for banning one of the harmful flame retardants, they have not done so yet.

Sixteen states are moving ahead to ban one or more chemical flame retardants by considering legislation that would do so. Some states, such as Washington and California, have already passed legislation. (1)

A concern that remains though is two-fold:

  • couches that are not made in states that ban flame retardants likely still have toxic flame retardants
  • banned flame retardants are being replaced with chemicals that have not been tested for their effect on health, and it’s suspected that the newly developed flame retardants will be just as toxic as the chemicals being banned.

Ways to reduce flame retardants’ exposure?

Reduce flame retardant exposures by choosing couches that are free from chemical flame retardants, or have been produced in states considering legislative action towards harmful flame retardants. Places like California and Washington that have had state bans in place for years may be a good place to start. 

In California, labels with “TB 117-2013” indicate that the couch (and other furniture pieces) complies with recent legislation that eliminated the need for chemical flame retardants. Be aware, however, that this law does not prohibit the use of chemical flame retardants so chemical flame retardants can still be present in furniture with this TB 117-201 label, but they have a chance of not having the chemical flame retardants. (2)

Nontoxic options when choosing a couch

In order to buy couches without flame retardants, consider buying a couch from the states considering legislation to ban flame retardants. Here is the list of those states according to PEW include: (3)

  • Washington
  • California
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Indiana
  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Alaska

Another way to reduce flame retardants is to avoid couches made with foam. Polyurethane foam is made with flame retardants found to be toxic to health.

Consider choosing couches with natural or organic filling, such as organic wool and organic cotton. If you feel it’s important to have your couch be fire retardant, but don’t want the chemicals added, opt for wool filling since wool is a natural flame retardant. Otherwise, consider choosing a couch with organic cotton and request that no chemical flame retardants be added.


When you buy a couch, think about the time you’ll be spending on it sitting with your kids or sinking in to. Would you want to be surrounded by harmful chemical flame retardants? Consider choosing a couch manufactured in one of the states that have, or is considering, legislation that bans the use of one or more harmful chemical flame retardants. Choose couches filled with natural and organic cotton and request no flame retardant be added or organic wool for a natural flame retardants.



(1)(3) PEW

(2) CA Department of Toxic Substance Control

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