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How to Buy a Safer Sofa

Finding upholstered furniture free of harmful flame retardants is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Stalman and Boniecka/Stocksy

1. Buy newer models.

There’s a good chance that upholstered furniture produced before 2013—especially pieces with labels that reference TB 117 (that’s a California law)—have flame-retardant chemicals. Unfortunately, they won't be listed or called out in any specific way.

2. Remember, the TB 117-2013 label isn’t enough.

A mention of TB 117-2013 means the furniture was manufactured after flame retardants were no longer required, but this gets you only halfway to true peace of mind. Labels on pieces manufactured after California’s 2014 Toxic Furniture Right-to-Know Bill was passed will also disclose whether they contain any added flame-retardant chemicals.

3. Choose your retailer wisely.

In September 2014, NRDC asked 16 major U.S. furniture stores whether they were selling products with added flame-retardant chemicals or if they planned to phase them out. These survey results can help consumers identify where they can purchase safer, healthier furniture. If the store you’re buying from hasn’t made a public declaration about flame retardants, ask about its current policy as well as its existing inventory.


Thanks to a long-overdue industry update and a new labeling law, shoppers can finally find nontoxic furniture.


These toxic chemicals are so common in consumer products and manufacturing that they’re practically everywhere—including inside our bodies.

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