If there is one class of chemicals to avoid, it’s toxic flame retardants.
I don’t want to use personal care products with parabens, PEGs, or phthalates, plastic with BPA or Teflon on my pots and pans…but based on existing scientific research, I’m more concerned about flame retardants than most other chemicals. It ranks right up there with lead as far as negative health impacts, but unlike lead, most of us have pounds of these chemicals in our homes.
Photo Credit: Chelsea Prestin Photography
Given the harmful and persistent nature of flame retardants (you can read more about that HERE), I’m thrilled to announce that we can actually purchase couches and chairs without flame retardants, which wasn’t possible a few years ago. So how do you get started?
Look for This Label
Email Laggard Companies
If a company you like isn’t offering flame retardant free furniture (whether it’s a sofa, car seat, or mattress), email them! The market has moved on this issue because of consumer demand. Simply ask them to start offering flame retardant free options.
Shop with These Brands
The Center for Environmental Health has been at the forefront of the fight against flame retardants and published this handy list of companies that are not using flame retardants in their furniture. This list was originally published on their Residential Furniture Survey and I have highlighted some of the more popular brands, available in most major American cities.
AICO (Amini Innovation Corporation)
American Furniture Manufacturing
Best Home Furnishings
Century (Highland House Furniture)
Crate and Barrel (CB2, Land of Nod)
Gus Design Group
Heritage Home Group Brands (Broyhill, Drexel Heritage, Henredon, Hickory Chair, Lane, Maitland Smith, Pearson, Thomasville)
Hooker Furniture (Bradington Young, Homeware, Sam Moore)
Interline (Scandinavian Designs, Plummers, Dania)
Joybird (added by Lindsay Dahl based on confirmation from their customer care team)
Kevin Charles Fine Upholstery (sold by City Furniture stores in Florida)
Klaussner (Comfort Designs)
Kristin Drohan Collection
McCreary Modern (available at Crate and Barrel, and Room and Board)
Pacific West Furniture
Pine St. Interiors/EcoTerric
Roger + Chris
Sherrill Furniture (Hickory White, Lillian August, Precedent, Motion Craft, Whittemore Sherrill , Mr. and Mrs. Howard)
Southern Enterprises (only some products are FR-free)
Stitch NYC (only some products are FR-free)
United Furniture Industries
Vanguard Furniture (Michael Weiss, Thom Filicia,Compendium)
Whittemore Sherrill Ltd.
Additional Safety Considerations and Resources
- If there isn’t a label on the bottom of the couch or sofa, it’s safe to assume there ARE toxic flame retardants in the product.
- Ask the manufacturer if the couch has been treated with a stain resistant coating, or if flame retardants have been used to treat the fabric. If the answer is yes to either of these questions, ask them for an untreated couch.
- Seven Ways to Tackle Indoor Air Pollution from Flame Retardants
- Green Science Policy Institute’s 2015 Guide to Flame Retardant Free Furniture
- Seven Flame Retardant Free Companies via Environmental Working Group
Shopping for safer products shouldn’t have to be this complicated. That is why I will continue to advocate for state and federal laws that ban the use of these harmful chemicals, further ensuring that regardless of education, income of access to information, we all will have safer products.
Love this list, Lindsay! It’s super helpful. I’ve thought of this often as the couch is somewhere we spend a lot of time and it concerns me what we may be exposed too!
I wish I had known about this when I bought my couch 10 years ago. It is a leather (or pseudo leather) couch and is still in great shape but next time I need to shop I will definitely make sure to research the brand and chemicals used to make it.
Room and Board out of Minnesota is a great company as well. https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2015/03/five-couches-without-flame-retardants-you-can-buy-right-now
I’m bummed to see Pottery Barn not on your list. I was hopeful that because they are a CA company that they did not use flame retardants.