It's regularly people go to great lengths to avoid chemicals in their food and beauty products—without giving a thought to the ones in their homes' furniture and textiles.
Flame retardants are top offenders to our health (and the environment) when it comes to home textiles. These finishings in furniture upholstery foam, electronics, and mattresses contain dangerous chemicals called Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which have officially made their way into our oceans and seafood.
But between halogenated flame retardants, stain-repellent chemicals, and PVC-based synthetics, there's a lot we should be looking out for in our upholstery, rugs, drapery, and home linens. While these chemicals do serve an important purpose—stain treatments help improve the longevity and durability of a product; flame retardants have been used to reduce fire risk for centuries; and other finishes such as wrinkle treatments help create products that are functional and aesthetically pleasing—scientific research is now beginning to confirm that some of them pose a threat to human health.
Good: Fabrics that inherently repel flames (think synthetic options like polyester and nylon) are better options for your home's air quality, but they tend to have a high carbon footprint.
Better: Wool and silk textiles have natural flame retardant qualities, but they are expensive!
Best: Natural textiles treated with organic phosphorus-containing flame retardants are quickly becoming more popular and readily available, though they're still not as easy to find as other options.