Manataka American Indian Council



Reducing PBDE's

By Lori Leah, Manataka Correspondent





Flame retardant chemicals, known as  polybrominated diphenyls (PBDE's) found in furniture, clothing, and carpet padding manufactured in the U.S and Europe have been found to accumulate in women's breast milk.  They have also found their way to the Arctic, poisoning Indigenous peoples and endangering Arctic polar bears and other wildlife. Here is what you can do to reduce PBDE's and other toxic chemicals in your home and the environment. Consider buying used furniture, mattresses, and clothing from thrift stores, antique shops, estate sales, or e-bay. This way, you are not adding any new PBDE's or other flame retardants into the environment as you would with the purchase of new items, and you'll be saving money, too!  


Check out Furniture Shopping Tips/Used Furniture:


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2) Join a recycling co-op on-line, where you can list used items you have for trade or give-away, and see if anyone else has posted items you may need. And, be sure to donate any unwanted used furniture to nonprofit organizations; this ensures the furniture will be recycled rather than dumped into a landfill. Check out this fantastic website to find out where you can recycle just about anything, including furniture, mattresses, and carpet padding (look under "Miscellaneous"): 


Earth 911/Reuse & Recycling Services:


3) Buy organic clothing--there are innumerable websites listing organic cotton and/or hemp clothing for sale, or check out the on-line Co-op America's National Green Pages:  and type in "organic clothing" or "hemp clothing"  under "key word" on search guide.  New organic clothing tends to be pricey; I prefer to buy everyday clothing from thrift stores, and go to re-sale shops for nicer items.  About the only clothing I buy new anymore are undergarments.


4) If you must buy new furniture, consider furniture made without flame retardants. Check out EcoChoices Natural Living . Custom eco-furniture is very expensive, but high quality. You can purchase organic mattresses without flame retardant through these companies as well. For more choices in eco-furniture and organic mattresses, go to National Green Pages


5) When it's time to replace your old carpeting, consider alternative flooring instead, such as tile, cork, or bamboo. Purchase used, antique, or organic fiber area rugs for warmth. Again, National Green Pages is a great resource for "green" businesses supplying eco-flooring: If you decide to go with a wood floor, be sure it's sustainably harvested (FSC certified).  If you decide to go with new carpeting, consider 100% biodegradable wool carpeting without carpet padding.


No matter what type of flooring you choose, whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or are hiring a flooring installation crew, I'd recommend you contact American Formulating & Manufacturing (AFM) to talk to a representative about zero or low-VOC, least-toxic floor glues, tile sealants, and floor finishes. They also have a great line of low-VOC house paint: 1-800-239-0321. VOC's, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are highly toxic in the environment and add to indoor air pollution.  Recommended article about VOC's: 


The Polar Bears and Great Mother Earth will thank you!


Thanks for going Green!

Liora Leah


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