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The ‘Safer Sofa’ Foam Exchange

How to avoid harmful flame retardants in your furniture

80-100% of a couch’s flame retardants are found in the foam inside removable cushions.

Safer Sofa Foam Exchange - brainchild of the Green Science Policy Institute

Are you concerned about harmful flame retardant chemicals that may be present in your upholstered furniture foam, and not sure how to you can get rid of them short of dumping that sofa or chair? Before you throw the baby out with the bath water, here’s an easy solution: Just change the foam in the cushions!

First you’ll want to find out if your sofa’s foam is even likely to contain those nasty chemicals. Follow the steps in this post on How to Avoid Harmful Flame Retardant Chemicals in your Furniture. If your answers to the questions there indicate that your furniture is likely to contain flame retardants, you can visit Living Home Furniture/NewLeaf Natural Upholstery’s online store to purchase Certified 100% natural latex foam, premium wool batting & ticking fabric.

The ‘SAFER SOFA’ FOAM EXCHANGE

The Safer Sofa Foam Exchange is a program initiated by the Green Science Policy Institute (GSPI) in California to give folks a way to exchange of old flame retardant-laden foam for new flame retardant-free foam. Although GSPI’s program does not extend outside of California, we think it’s a great idea to grow peace of mind by eliminating a major source of harmful chemicals in your home. Visit our store to watch videos and download instructions that will walk you through replacing the foam in your cushions.

Harvesting latex milk from a rubber tree

100% natural latex foam is made from the sap of the Rubber tree

 What If I Have A Latex Allergy?

There is one type of allergy ‘latex allergy (contact or respiratory)’ that can be caused by the raw material natural latex, the sap of the rubber tree. This allergy can not be caused by sitting/sleeping on a latex mattress or cushion, because:

  1. the latex cores are washed thoroughly before they are shipped from the factory.
  2. the proteins in the natural latex responsible for the possible allergic reaction are destroyed by the high temperatures during vulcanization in production.
  3. the cover of the mattress or cushion protects the skin against any direct contact.

According to medical literature, not a single case of allergic reaction has ever been reported as a consequence of sleeping on a latex mattress or pillow (info from Latexco). However, people with acute or life-threatening allergies should always practice caution and seek the advice of their doctor or health professional.

Researching Responsible Disposal Methods

There are currently no agreed-upon best practices for the responsible disposal of flexible foam containing flame retardants. An acceptable method must isolate and destroy toxics while conserving material and energy resources. The Green Science Policy Institute of California is researching responsible disposal methods, including chemical recycling, waste-to-fuel technologies and biological/chemical degradation methods.

We will be watching for future policies that could help get today’s flame retardant-containing couches out of homes and the environment. Meanwhile, our only option is landfill disposal. Check out the Green Science Policy Institute for additional information.

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About the Author

CarlaHey there! I'm Carla Pyle. I love the stories that our furniture tells. For me a picture of my Granddaddy Milton's green upholstered arm chair brings to mind the vivid rhymes & colors of 'The Cat in the Hat' and his soft low voice in the telling. I love too that there is always an element of nature in furniture - the warm-toned curving grain of a walnut leg or the reflection of life in a mid-century chrome piece. The best part of teaching & sharing natural upholstery is that it ties all of these things together. Stories - of individual experience and of the planet - help us build happy & healthy homes.View all posts by Carla →