What's In Your Couch? / by Positive Energy

Greetings building science enthusiasts,

As many of you already know, we're interested in indoor air quality and more broadly interested in the health impacts of the built environment. It's fundamentally changing the way we design, build, and specify. The materials we use have properties that can either help or harm the people that come into contact with them. So let's take a look today at a particularly nasty component of many materials: 

Halogenated/Brominated Flame Retardants 

What are they? 

Flame retardants are compounds added to manufactured materials, such as plastics and textiles, and surface finishes and coatings that inhibit, suppress, or delay the production of flames to prevent the spread of fire. They may be mixed with the base material (additive flame retardants) or chemically bonded to it (reactive flame retardants). Brominated and chlorianted chemicals are added to products such as televisions, computers, textiles, building materials, infant car seats, and strollers, despite a lack of evidence that they actually prevent fires. Laboratory studies show that some of these chemicals can lead to negative birth outcomes, harm the developing brain, hamper sperm development, and impair thyroid function. Numerous states have taken action on halogenated flame retardants.

We thought this video was helpful to provide some clarity:

Toxic flame retardant chemicals are saturated in the foam inside our furniture. These chemicals are linked to serious health effects and are worthless in preventing furniture fires. We need better regulation of these chemicals to address this problem.

The point of this post is pretty simple - we want to pose a simple question:

Are you specifying or using materials with brominated flame retardants?

If so, it's probably time to ask yourself why and whether there are other solutions you can offer your projects. Positive Energy doesn't necessarily have all the answers and we recognize that every situation is different, but we think we at least can point out the problem. 

If we follow Kristof's 5 Rules For A Healthy Home, we can pretty well see where this one fits: minimize indoor emissions. 

Kristof Irwin talks about awesome 5 principles for a well-built house! https://positiveenergy.pro https://positiveenergy.pro/building-science-podcast/ https://www.instagram.com/bldgscienceatx/ https://www.instagram.com/risingerbuild https://www.mattrisinger.com

If you're interested in more resources on chemical free materials, check out the Chemical Free Community's database.