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Question from Laura Sharp

We recently built a new house and have killed ourselves trying to make it healthy for our 2 young daughters with all kinds of health issues. We did as much as we knew to do, including solid wood cabinets, healthy paint, hardwood and ceramic tile floors, etc. We also bought completely solid wood furniture. However, I somehow missed the health concerns about upholstered furniture. Since our upholstered furniture has been delivered, our 3-year old has been stuffy with a runny nose, and her excema has flared up. I’m afraid it’s the furniture. The cushions are 85% urethane foam and 15% resin treated polyester. How unhealthy is it, and what do I do now???

Debra’s Answer

It’s probably the furniture. There’s a simple answer to your question at which outlines the dangers of PBDEs found in all synthetic foam products (such as yours).

I don’t know how many pieces you have that need to be replaced, but you’ll need to either remove and replace the foam with natural latex foam or old-fashioned box springs (I have box springs in my sofa), or stuff it with wool batting. You may also need to reupholster.

It might be easier to sell what you have and start over with some nontoxic furniture from one of the websites on Debra’s List: Interior Decorating: Furniture.

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