PBDEs are used in a lot of our products, including couches, to make them resistant to flames.
From The Environment Report:
Producer: Rebecca Williams
Flame retardant chemicals are used in hundreds of products in our homes and offices and schools. The chemicals can slow the spread of fire. But certain kinds of these chemicals leach out of our couches, our TVs, our carpet padding and many other things in our homes. And they’re getting into our bodies. In the first of our five part series, Rebecca Williams tries to find out what’s in the products in her own home...
A study on PBDEs in U.S. mothers' milk
Article on PBDEs from Green Science Policy Institute
Read the statements from industry groups and the EPA