Study Finds Furniture and Flooring Decisions Impact Children’s Health, Here’s How to Find Healthier Options

When purchasing furniture or investing in new flooring most of us consider appearance, cost, durability, and functionality among other things; but what we do not always consider are the chemicals that we might be exposed to in a certain product. A recent study by Duke University argues that chemical makeup and health effects need to be moved to the top of the list.

Unlike most previous studies, the Duke study investigated links between specific products and children’s exposure to chemicals that have previously been associated with health problems—such as flame retardants, phthalates, BPA, and pesticides.

Together with the Centers for Disease Control and Boston University, researchers found that kids living in homes with a sofa that contains a flame retardant known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) had blood levels of these compounds 6.8 times higher than children whose homes did not have sofas with PBDEs. PBDE compounds are linked to neurodevelopmental delays, obesity, cancer, and other diseases.

It also was discovered that children living in homes with vinyl flooring were exposed to a phthalate metabolite and had urine sample concentrations 15 times higher than their vinyl flooring-free counterparts. This phthalate compound is associated with respiratory diseases, skin irritation, and reproductive disorders.

Flame retardants such as PBDEs in furniture and phthalates in vinyl flooring are common in households across the United States. You can find more information on this study and the dangers of these chemicals here.

Flooring and furniture are not the only sources of hazardous chemicals in building products and materials. To find out what hazardous chemicals could be in your home and find safe and healthy alternatives visit and check out our healthy products database and hazardous chemical information section.