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Fire Retardants

Ocean

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Buy used or antique furniture from when they didn't use those chemicals. I believe there are even mattresses without it, I've looked into it before. Info can be found on Google on that. That's just a start, since they're in so many things, but still, better than nothing if you're serious about trying to reduce exposure. I try to reduce my exposure to toxins to the degree that works for me, but for furniture the items I can afford are all probably pretty toxic. There's way too much toxic stuff in our environment to really be able to avoid a lot of it in my opinion.
 

Adster

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I remember hearing that cheap imported furniture was risky when it comes to these chemicals. I think buying older secondhand items helps as Ocean suggested, as a lot of offgassing has already occured. You could also commision items to be built by a furniture maker and pick the materials yourself.

I think cotton and wool clothing are generally less toxic than synthetics, but I'm sure there are exceptions.
 

Mark

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All furniture has to be drenched in these toxins by law in the UK, including second hand. Second hand furniture can be even more risky if it had to be freshly treated in order to sell it, and the law came in in about 1992 so I think you'd be lucky to find any flame-retardant-free furniture here. Almost any solution you can find would probably be technically illegal to sell.

My solution was an imported semi-aniline leather sofa, very expensive but fundamental to turning my health around. Semi-aniline leather is a natural flame retardant so it's exempt from the requirement - though there's still no guarantee it won't have been treated with something. In my case, I can feel the effects within minutes of sitting on or touching something so I was able to experiment in the furniture show-room to find something that didn't set me off.

I still don't know for sure if it's the flame retardants alone that provoke the itching reaction, but I suspect that's what sets me off in clothing as well; I suspect clothes are sprayed with it in warehouses as well but have not seen any confirmation of that. I too find cotton and wool clothing less toxic than synthetics, and I too find there are exceptions, and I suspect that's down to what the cotton and wool have been treated with.

PBDEs (the previous generation of flame retardants) are now banned in the EU, but they are out there now everywhere on furniture, and leaching into the water when furniture is dumped, thus getting into the food chain. They are so widespread, and don't biodegrade, that they have been detected in polar bears.

All this has never been a news story here - I don't think the Science Media Centre briefed the UK media particularly extensively on this subject when the ban was brought in, possibly because they are funded by all the people who made these chemicals...
 

garcia

Aristocrat Extraordinaire
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The most important item would be your bed, since that is where you are going to absorb the majority of fire-retardant chemicals (since we spend longest there, and have the most skin contact).

In the UK (and the US) although mattresses normally have fire retardant chemicals, you can buy ones which are made of naturally fire-resistant materials such as wool. You do have to pay a lot more, but IMHO worth it.

According to this article here: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/stories/organic-mattresses

Current fire safety standards are designed to prevent mattresses and other furniture from bursting into flames should a lit cigarette be dropped upon them, and they can be met fairly easily without using the dangerous brominated flame retardants that have become widespread, explains Sonya Lunder, senior analyst for the Environmental Working Group (EWG). A watchdog organization, EWG has recently added flame retardants to the long list of substances being researched in their labs and offices. “We like to promote non-chemical, design solutions,” says Lunder. Wool, for instance, can be used as a barrier to prevent highly flammable foam stuffing from catching fire, which is what a lot of the mattresses on the natural product market use. Don’t feel like you have to spend thousands of dollars on a tricked-out organic mattress, though. It’s always good to support sustainable manufacturing practice if you can afford to, but you can avoid the worst nasties by simply choosing a better mainstream option. Ikea, for instance, is phasing out brominated fire retardants, and Serta already uses a barrier system on all mattresses. EWG also maintains alist of companies that are taking steps in the right direction.
A couple of good articles here about people whose health problems have been greatly helped by changing to an organic mattress:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property...en-property-going-organic-in-the-bedroom.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property...0/Eco-homes-How-to-have-a-healthier-home.html
 

Mark

Senior Member
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The most important item would be your bed, since that is where you are going to absorb the majority of fire-retardant chemicals (since we spend longest there, and have the most skin contact).
I definitely agree with that. This was the problem that was trashing my sleep for years until I figured it out. And when you never actually sleep properly, because you're reacting to something all night every night...that has terrible knock-on effects because your body never actually rests and recovers. This reaction to those chemicals is such a subtle effect, and it was so difficult and expensive to fix, that I do often wonder whether that might be the key issue for many others.
 

maryb

iherb code TAK122
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P.S. am seriously thinking of buying an organic mattress. Anyone else from the UK thinking of doing so? If so I've found a few websites:

Well I ordered a natural latex mattress from yanis, it is still in the spare bedroom, window open, and 2 weeks later still smelling like fury (overpowering) will I be able to suffer it eventually, I doubt it, I'm going to ask if they will take it back on Monday, may try one of the links you gave if they do, if not, looks like I'm stuck with my old one for a bit longer. This damn MCS!!
 

floydguy

Senior Member
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I definitely agree with that. This was the problem that was trashing my sleep for years until I figured it out. And when you never actually sleep properly, because you're reacting to something all night every night...that has terrible knock-on effects because your body never actually rests and recovers. This reaction to those chemicals is such a subtle effect, and it was so difficult and expensive to fix, that I do often wonder whether that might be the key issue for many others.
I got a kick out of this as I've been sleeping on a leather couch for 2 weeks now. I've been debating with myself whether it's from the chemicals or dust mites. Whatever the reason I sleep a lot better despite the discomfort.
 

Mark

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I got a kick out of this as I've been sleeping on a leather couch for 2 weeks now. I've been debating with myself whether it's from the chemicals or dust mites. Whatever the reason I sleep a lot better despite the discomfort.
Do you get itchy or irritable skin (or neuropathy/allodyina) when you sleep elsewhere? I tried all kinds of anti-dust mite measures, but that made no difference, I'm pretty certain it's not dust mites in my case.
 

floydguy

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Do you get itchy or irritable skin (or neuropathy/allodyina) when you sleep elsewhere? I tried all kinds of anti-dust mite measures, but that made no difference, I'm pretty certain it's not dust mites in my case.
For me it's about breathing. The bedding/mattress appears to have a big impact on my breathing.
 

Mark

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For me it's about breathing. The bedding/mattress appears to have a big impact on my breathing.
Interesting. Is that like the feeling of not being able to get enough oxygen in your lungs? I had a bit of that at onset, when trying to sleep in one specific bed. My GP explained the panic aspect of this and told me to just relax and not worry, and in fact I did find that resolved that problem. The anxiety over the sense of not being able to breathe properly does create a vicious cycle, and conversely making a conscious effort to relax did create a virtuous cycle and I didn't have that problem again. But I do still wonder whether there was something else provoking that breathlessness in the first place.