Home Furnishings

by Ms. S on February 7, 2009

Please note that this section contains my personal notes from my readings on this topic.

“We have come to understand that chemicals in the environment can cause a wide range of developmental disabilities in children… In the words of pediatrician Herbert L. Needleman, ‘We are conducting a vast toxicologic experiment in our society, in which our children and our children’s children are the experimental subjects.”

– The Developing Brain and the Environment: An Introduction, Bernard Weiss MD, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and Philip J. Landrigan MD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 107 Supplement 3, June 2000; HealthyChild.com


Carpeting is one of the major sources of indoor air pollution.  Although newly installed carpeting produces the most complaints from emissions of irritating chemicals, older carpets harbor dust, house-dust mites, microbes and particulate matter.  Carpet, through normal wear and tear, begins to break down over time.  Minute carpet fibers become airborne, especially during vacuuming, creating dust which can act as a carrier for microbes.  Most carpets and rugs are made of synthetic fibers bound to a backing material by glues and other bonding agents.  Research suggests the main culprit may come from a commonly used latex substance called styrene butadiene rubber (SBR).

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Plants That Purify Your Home or Office (1996) by Dr. B.C. Wolverton; page 13


A lot of furniture has been treated with toxic flame retardants called PBDEs.  PBDEs are blended into plastics and foams used in some furniture, mattresses, and car cushions (unless you own a Volvo).  But they don’t like to stay there.  They like to leach onto other people, places, and things, including you.  Nobody is really certain what prolonged PBDE exposure will do to people.  But we do know that they can be found in human breast milk in increasing concentrations, that they are likely to accumulate in human tissue, and that they are very similar in structure to the endocrine hormone thyroxine.  You can buy PBDE-free furniture.  IKEA phased out PBDEs years ago.  “Squeaky Green” p35 has more solutions.


Your vinyl shower curtain or shower curtain liner is made of polyvinyl chloride, aka PVC.  PVC contains phthalates.  Phthalates are toxic, evil chemicals, used to make flexible plastics.  Your shower curtain may be off-gassing toxic chemicals.  (“Squeaky Green” p92)


Click here for more on the hazards of conventional mattresses.


Many candles are made of paraffin wax, which is a petroleum by-product.  It comes from the sludge from the bottom of a barrel of oil that is bleached and texturized with a chemical called acrolein.  When burned, paraffin wax emits soot into the air of your home.  (“Squeaky Green” p78)


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