The right to be informed is one of the basic rights of any consumer. However, to be informed one must be proactive and educate one’s self about one’s rights and responsibilities as a consumer. However if we fail to inform and educate ourselves we usually make decisions that reduce our financial resources and in some instances harm our health.
The search for consumer related information is usually made
more difficult by manufacturers as they try and hide certain aspects of data
necessary for us as consumers to make informed choices.
How many of us for example are aware that harmful chemicals
are used in household furniture? Many of us have cushions, sofas and upholstery
type furniture in our homes yet we know very little about the makeup of these
furniture. Flame retardant foams are usually placed inside many types of
upholstery type furniture and research is now showing that exposure to these
retardants is responsible for a wide range of illnesses and disorders from
cancers, birth defects, infertility to hyper-activity. Interestingly there are
many classes of flame retardants and these are for the most part unregulated. Polyurethane
which is commonly used in upholstery furniture is one of most harmful chemicals
used and constant exposure to this chemical can cause serious health issues. Two
especially vulnerable groups in the society to harmful chemicals are children
and nursing mothers. Polyurethane is an extremely durable and flexible
synthetic material used in many household items, such as pillows and
mattresses. Polyurethane is known for emitting (VOC,
s) volatile organic compounds.
Additionally, we need to ask ourselves a few questions, what
is the local regulatory agency doing to keep harmful chemicals out of furniture.
Does the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) conduct tests on
local and foreign made furniture to determine what chemicals are being used and
whether or not these chemicals are harmful to humans? Should the BSJ ask
manufacturers (local, overseas) to state what flame retardants are used in
their products? Should a ban be placed on any furniture which uses harmful
chemicals to humans? Be a smart shopper this Christmas, conduct your background
checks and ask questions it’s your right as a consumer. Ultimately your safety
and the safety of your family rest with you!