How the Flame Retardants in Your Couch are Increasing Your Risk of Developing Thyroid Disease

How the Flame Retardants in Your Couch are Increasing Your Risk of Developing Thyroid Disease

A new study has revealed bad news about flame retardants. The good news is that they are found in a large amount of our upholstery and clothing, keeping us from catching on fire. The negative is that the same chemicals seem to contribute to an elevated risk of thyroid disease in women.

The findings, which were determined in a study conducted by lead researcher Joseph Allen of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that the chemicals in flame retardant material called PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, can interfere with the body’s endocrine system.

How so? PBDEs interfere with the production of estrogen in the body. This elevates the chances that the thyroid might malfunction, as it needs estrogen to do its job properly.


It was found that women with the highest amounts of flame retardants in their blood were 48 to 78 percent more likely to have thyroid problems than those with the lowest amounts. Older women were also found to have more thyroid problems than younger, pre-menopausal women.

Can you avoid the contaminants completely? It’s hard. The difficulty is that flame retardants migrate out of our clothing and furniture and into our blood streams, causing the potential for health problems to arise.

It’s next to impossible to avoid PBDEs completely but you can reduce your level of exposure. Wear natural fibers when possible, like cotton or wool and maintain a clean environment in your indoor spaces.

Experts say that wet dusting and mopping can reduce the amount of toxic particles hanging around your home, waiting to be ingested.

The ultimately answer? Change, the experts say, needs to come at a national policy level to really have a lasting effect on our health. Read up, and write to your local politician.

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