The Richmond Register

Local News

December 3, 2012

Toxic chemicals linked to cancer found in most sofas

Richmond and Berea residents’ couches tested in study

RICHMOND — A peer-reviewed study published last week in Environmental Science and Technology shows a carcinogen used as a replacement chemical for banned toxic flame retardants was found in the majority of samples from couches sent in from all over the United States, according to a release from the Berea-based Kentucky Environmental Foundation.

At least two of the samples came from homes in Madison County.

“Chlorinated Tris, removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s due to links to genetic impacts, is being promoted and used by the flame retardant industry to replace other banned toxic chemical flame retardants,” explains a study co-author, Arlene Blum, PhD, from the Green Science Policy Institute. The samples were tested by Heather Stapleton at Duke University.

“Tris increases cancer risk,” explains Kathy Curtis, LPN, from the Alliance for Toxic-Free Fire Safety. “It is alarming to know that the couch we’ve owned for seven years, that our children and grandchild have sat on, played on and grown up with, is shedding harmful toxic chemicals.”

People are primarily exposed to the toxic chemicals when they migrate from furniture and other products, through household dust and into our bodies, according to the KEF release. Toddlers can have up to three times the body level of flame retardant chemicals than their mothers. Scientific studies show that exposure to flame retardants is linked to neurological, reproductive and hormonal health effects and cancer.

Richmond resident Jamie Austad decided to have her couch tested due to her concern for the health of her four children, who range in age from 6 to 17.

“I was horrified when the results came back from the study. To discover that I had purchased a brand new couch with carcinogenic chemicals was disturbing; especially since I take great care to make sure other items I purchase are safe for my family,” she said. “I expect better from industry and government leaders who think it’s okay that my couch contains the same chemicals that were banned from children’s pajamas nearly 40 years ago.”

Elizabeth Crowe, KEF executive director and a Berea resident, also sent in a sample from her couch.

“What’s especially frustrating is that these so-called flame retardant chemicals have been proven to not reduce the risk of fire danger as they were originally intended,” she said “They are useless, yet our families are the ones who are paying the price with health problems.”

Dr. David A. Atwood, a chemist at the University of Kentucky, said he believes a systematic shift in chemical regulation is necessary in order to protect public health.

“We have made an enormous mistake assuming that a chemical should be used freely until it is determined to have adverse health effects, rather than taking the position that all chemicals should be avoided unless it is absolutely certain that the chemical is safe. Products should be designed so that extraneous components like flame retardants are not necessary.”

Policy momentum is shaping up in states across the country to require only the least-toxic fire safety, Crowe said. In New York, legislation is in the works that would ban chlorinated Tris. At least a dozen other states, including Kentucky, plan to launch efforts in 2013 to restrict the toxic chemical. In addition, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has drafted flammability standards that can be met without the use of toxic chemicals.

In 2012, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive chemical reform bill, the Safe Chemicals Act, out of the Environment and Public Works Committee. If approved by Congress, Crowe said the SCA would ultimately stop the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals in products. 

Text Only
Local News
  • 7-29 Construction 1.jpg Water Street storm-water digging begins

    Caisson holes were drilled and then filled with concrete and steel poles Monday to create a retaining structure to shore up the Allstate Insurance building foundations' firm when excavation for the Water Street Stormwater Improvement Project begins.
    Digging for 20 ton, 6 by 7 foot concrete box culverts will begin today, if weather permits, said Jason Hart, Richmond’s director of Planning and Zoning. The culverts will help reduce the likelihood of flooding on Water Street by carrying storm water under Main Street, the CVS parking lot and Irvine Street to a stream, he said.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Robert Abney.jpg RPD: Bottle bomb injures man, damages neighbor’s home

    Richmond Police on Friday charged Robert Abney, 30, of Moberly Avenue, in connection with a May 30 explosion that injured Abney and damaged a neighbor’s home.
    Officers were dispatched May 30 to a residence in the 500 block of Moberly Avenue to investigate the report of an explosion.
    They found the remains of a plastic bottle bomb near a residence adjoining Moberly’s, according to an RPD news release. A wall of the occupied home was smoldering and grass was burned in the area, it added.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Steven Coffey.jpg Two led police on I-75 chase from Berea

    Berea Police found a man passed out and intoxicated inside his crashed vehicle on Interstate 75 Wednesday, according to a police report.
    Steven Coffey, 34, of Berea, had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet when officers arrived at the vehicle, the police report stated. They determined he was under the influence of drugs, the report stated.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-27 HeartChase 1.jpg A race to the finish line

    Sheltered by overcast sky and supported by a cool breeze, teams competed Saturday morning in the second annual HeartChase at Richmond Centre.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • 7-27 Hops 1.jpg Hops & Vine Festival raises money for humane society

    Downtown Richmond’s Hops and Vine Festival started more than two years ago with a question.

    July 26, 2014 3 Photos

  • Bill Clinton will stump for Grimes in eastern Kentucky

    Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the “Big Dog” in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    Former President Bill Clinton will join Grimes on Aug. 6 for a campaign rally in eastern Kentucky, according to a campaign official who would provide no further details.

    July 26, 2014

  • 7-26 Stockyards 2.jpg Cattle farmers enjoying ‛perfect storm’

    Demand is up, and cattle are selling for record prices.

    At the same time, corn prices are down and fuel prices have stabilized.

    That adds up to a “perfect storm” for Kentucky cattle farmers, said Gary Kelly of Paint Lick as he ate lunch Friday with his brother Jimmy at the restaurant across from the Blue Grass Stockyards.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • 7-26 Fire Practice Structure 1.jpg Fire training tower going up

    A new training tower for the Richmond Fire Department is rising on Four Mile Road.

    Construction began Thursday on the four-story, steel-framed structure.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pavement work to restrict I-75 in Rockcastle County

    Beginning Sunday until about the end of November, Interstate 75 in Rockcastle County will be reduced to one lane in each direction between mile points 58 and 66 for pavement work.

    July 26, 2014

  • Jailed woman charged with heroin trafficking

    A Richmond woman already jailed on another charge was served with a drug trafficking warrant Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

     View Results