How to Have “Clean” Dust

By Carol Kwiatkowski from The Green Science Policy Institute
Read why swapping out foam or furniture can lead to a healthier homeMore than 45 years ago, California enacted TB117, a flammability standard that led to large quantities of toxic flame retardants being added to upholstered furniture and children’s products throughout the US and Canada. Since then, we’ve learned that the flame retardants in our couches end up in our dust and our bodies – especially those of our children. 
Now a peer-reviewed study, led by the Silent Spring Institute in collaboration with our Institute and others, indicates that the 2013 revision to TB117 so that flame retardants are no longer needed in furniture is making a real difference.

Study authors measured flame retardants in the dust of participants’ homes. After their old upholstered furniture was replaced with new items without these chemicals, the researchers found a decrease in flame retardants. Results were similar for people who purchased new furniture and for those who only replaced the cushion foam with flame retardant free foam. Foam in cushions can be replaced before the furniture wears out, at a lower cost, and this will keep toxic furniture out of the secondhand market. 

recent similar study at Harvard assessed dust concentrations of PBDE and organophosphate flame retardants, as well as PFAS. Researchers found much lower levels of all of these harmful chemicals in areas that had been renovated with healthier furniture, carpet, and other products.  Until you complete your own healthy home make-over, you can reduce your family’s exposure to flame retardants and PFAS by wet-dusting and vacuuming with a HEPA filter often. Here’s to a future full of healthier homes! Many thanks to all the people and organizations who have worked so long and hard to achieve this policy and scientific success.

Fine out more about dust and cleaning here:

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