Bad reactions to furniture

We’ve already had three complaints in the last 12 months from consumers experiencing these symptoms. - Australian Furniture Association CEO Patrizia Torelli

The sofa and bed are some of the most used items in a household, but if you’ve noticed a strange smell or experienced a skin reaction to your furniture, you might want to consider getting it tested or replaced.

SOME of the most-used items in the household could present a risk if people experience bad reactions to them. The AFA said some upholstered furniture, such as bed heads or sofas, could contain azo dyes.

SOME of the most-used items in the household could present a risk if people experience bad reactions to them. The AFA said some upholstered furniture, such as bed heads or sofas, could contain azo dyes.

According to the Australian Furniture Association (AFA), there are concerns about azo dyes – which are linked to cancer – found in some imported upholstered furniture, such as lounges, dining chairs and bed headboards.

Patrizia Torelli, AFA CEO said consumers should be wary and report any reactions they’ve had from furniture.

“We’ve already had three complaints in the last 12 months from consumers experiencing these symptoms,” Ms Torelli said. “The reason why it’s an issue is because there has been an increase in the number of complaints from consumers about smell and or some physical reactions to furniture.

“It could be a headache, it could be rashes or a whole range of things. It doesn’t mean it’s caused from azo dyes but it’s worth checking.

“Some of the sprays and chemicals used by customs can also cause the same symptoms.”

The AFA CEO said most leading Australian retailers are likely to not sell furniture containing azo dyes, but buying from an international online retailer could present a bigger risk, as they may not be aware of Australian standards.

“Most of the reputable retailers will assist in documentation from their suppliers and a reputable supplier will provide that information,” Ms Torelli said.

In 2014 the ACCC tested products for azo dye, such as clothing and bed linen, which resulted in voluntary recalls.

“Although the risk to consumers is very low, any avoidable risk should be managed responsibly,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

However, in 2014 Professor Bernard Stewart from Cancer Council Australia told the ABC there are no studies proving azo dyes cause cancer in humans, but that people should avoid contact with these chemicals. 

For those who are unsure about products in their home, Ms Torelli said to check if the supplier is a member of the AFA, to ask for product certification and to call the AFA office.

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