My Ikea Couch Reeks of Chemicals

Why are flame retardants required in furniture, anyway?

Excerpt: I happen to live in a state that does not have an Ikea. (I know! Shocking!) So when I found out about Cyber Monday, a newly anointed retail holiday on which many stores offer free shipping for Internet orders placed several weeks before Christmas, I ordered my Beddinge. It's a minimalist futon couch. It's dark gray and cost less than $300.

The couch came (freely) delivered in two large pieces: The mattress tightly rolled up in plastic, the frame in a flat box. Two guys hauled them into a spare room in the basement. After months of putting it off, I squared my shoulders and headed downstairs for some assembly combat involving a bewildering variety of Allen wrenches and spring-release hinges. Then I slashed the plastic wrap around the mattress. I was soon overcome by a sweet and pungent chemical smell.

Here, I have to tell you, my soldier's heart pretty much fell. Why was my sleek little Swedish couch reeking of something nasty? Wasn't Ikea the company with the long corporate reports about tree planting and forward-thinking policies on hazardous materials—and one of the first major retailers to discontinue the use of brominated flame retardants in furniture?

Related Research Area: