Why is this important?
Some flame retardant chemicals are used in polyurethane foam products such as mattresses, cushions, children’s toys and form products, and upholstered furniture. These substances have been linked to health effects such as harm to the endocrine and reproductive systems, and damage to the liver (Government of Canada, 2021a). Similarly, stain repellent chemicals, such as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), can also persist in the environment and pose risks to child health and development (Steenland et al, 2020). Formaldehyde, a volatile organic compound (VOC), is commonly found in indoor air from off-gassing from household products such as paper products, some fabrics, floor finishes and paints. Formaldehyde can cause eye, nose and throat irritation and is linked to respiratory symptoms (Government of Canada, 2021b).
What actions can we take?
- Avoid the use of sleep mats/ cots made of polyurethane foam and/or vinyl.
- If foam/vinyl sleep mats/ cots are used, ensure they are fully encased in washable fabric that is laundered frequently.
- Avoid the use of upholstered furniture, draperies and other items that have been treated with flame retardant chemicals or stain repellent chemicals when possible.
- Avoid using spray-on stain repellents and flame retardant products.