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Couches and Carpets: Careful Where You Shag

Flame retardants are in the cushions of our couches and car seats, in carpet padding, and in the casings of many electronic devices (mattresses rely on a physical barrier to fend off flames). They're also found in our blood stream, and that's not a good thing. The chemicals can damage sperm. And in a recent study, women with high levels of flame-retardant compounds known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) in their blood took longer to get pregnant than women with lower levels—up to 50 percent longer in cases of high levels. The two most commonly used PBDEs were actually banned in 2004, but they're still in our homes.

Women should avoid areas where carpet is being removed, and it might be best not to reupholster your own furniture if you're trying to conceive. And when you buy new furniture, avoid anything with a tag that states "complies with California Technical Bulletin 117," the law requiring furniture to be flame retardant. Or look for furniture made of alternative nontreated materials, such as cotton, wool, and latex.

Source: "PBDE Concentrations in Women's Serum and Fecundability," Environmental Health Perspectives (May 2010)
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