home ecology & environmental connections
Flame retardants are part of our toxic body burden. They are associated with cancer, neurological deficits, hormone disruption and impaired fertility, to name a few. They get inside us when we inadvertently ingest flame-retardant laden dust, or breathe it in. Flame retardants are everywhere, it seems, but it is possible to reduce your exposure to them. Here are a few tips:
1) Replace upholstered furniture likely to contain flame retardants with FR-free furniture. Choose an organic sofa if your budget permits, or create your own flame retardant-free sofa hack. I did this by using second hand bamboo sofa frames, then taking the cushions and replacing the foam with denim insulation. This insulation is safe to handle and uses non-toxic borates as the flame retardant.
Please beware, sofas that use soy foam are not flame retardant free!
2) Invest in an organic mattress. Flame retardants are required in mattresses unless they contain wool which is a natural flame retardant. Again, soy foam does not mean flame retardant-free!
3) Reduce the number of electronics in your home. Flame retardants leach out of electronics, becoming part of your household dust.
4) When housecleaning, damp dust. Dry dusting or feather dusting propels finer particles into the air while damp dusting will allow dust to adhere to your cleaning rag.
5) If you have a baby in your home, seek out organic, non-plastic baby products. Look for products made of wood and wool.
6) Again, for your baby, look for organic wool clothing. Not all wool clothing is hot, there are light wool fabrics for warmer days or for layering. Wool actually allows the body to self regulate temperature, so your baby will be comfy cozy in his or her woolies.
7) Use a HEPA filter on your HVAC system and change it when needed. HEPA filters filter out the smaller particles from your air, so that your lungs won’t have to.
8) Also use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Miele and Nilfiske are two vacuum brands that come highly recommended for their ability to do the job right.
9) Consider replacing any carpeting in your home with hardwood floors, cork flooring, or other non-toxic flooring options. They will be easier to keep clean of both short term dirt and long term toxins.
10) When insulating your home, choose a non-toxic choice free from chemical flame retardants. See the denim insulation mentioned above. Wool insulation is also available.