By Julie Watts

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Couch owners who want to limit their exposure to flame retardant chemicals now have a new option.

The Safer Sofa Foam Exchange is a new program that helps consumers replace the old foam in their sofa and chair cushions with new foam that is chemical free.

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The project links consumers up with five foam stores in the Bay Area that are now or will soon be stocking foam that is not doused with chemical flame retardants.

Those chemicals have been linked to cancer and other health problems.

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Earlier this year,  California enacted new furniture flammability standards that are intended to minimize the use of the flame retardant chemicals in furniture without sacrificing safety.

The owner of Foam Order in San Francisco,  one of the stores participating in the foam-exchange program,  estimates the average cost of changing  a single medium-sized cushion is between $45 and $65,  depending on the type of replacement foam chosen.

Ten percent of the sales through the program will  go to developing responsible ways of disposing with the old foam,  so it does not get reused into other household products,  like carpet backing.

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The Green Science Policy Institute estimates that 80 – 100% of a couch’s flame retardants are found in the foam inside removable cushions.