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Half of American Couches Could Be Toxic

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Next time you plop down on the sofa, you may be sitting on something toxic.  

Researchers at Duke University say more than half of couches in American homes contain potentially harmful flame retardants linked to hormone disruption, cancer and neurological damage.  

One of the chemicals found was “Tris,” a retardant that used to be used in baby pajamas, but was phased out because animal tests suggested it could be a human carcinogen. Heather Stapleton, one of the researchers at Duke, said that recently manufactured couches were more likely to contain such chemicals.

“Overall, we detected flame-retardant chemicals in 85 percent of the couches we tested and in 94 percent of those purchased after 2005,” Stapleton said.  She added that a California regulation requiring couches to withstand an open flame for 12 seconds has essentially become a national manufacturing standard, and led to more couches being treated with chemical flame retardants.

The American Chemistry Council says there's no data that indicates the levels of flame retardants in couches would cause any harm, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission says there's also no evidence the flame retardants offer significant fire protection.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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