Scientists have found a possible link between chemicals which fireproof sofas and a rise in thyroid cancer.

Flame retardant decaBDE (decabromodiphenyl ether) which is often found in household sofas, has been touted as a possible health hazard following studies suggesting it causes cancer in adults and cognitive issues in children.

Next month a conference will discuss the potential effects of decaBDE. Warning signs that have been ringing since 2013, when Terry Edge of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy began campaigning for the chemical's removal.

Edge resigned in 2016 when his proposals were no adhered to, and he lambasted what he described as "clear evidence" that such chemicals were "killing people".

He said: "The evidence is clear that flame retardants in our sofas are killing people.

"They are causing thousands of cancers and other illnesses, with children particularly vulnerable."

The evidence points towards a 74% rise in thyroid cancer in a symposium next month and Heather Stapleton of Duke University in North Carolina will speak at the event having conducted experiments on the chemicals.

"The chemicals are released as household dust and enter our bodies on our food and hands, with the highest levels in children.

"Our study looked at people with thyroid cancer and at healthy controls. We found the group with cancer had significantly higher exposure to decaBDE."

Jonathan Hindle of the British Furniture Confederation said: "We are aware of the potential waste disposal issue… and will work with the authorities," while the British Plastics Federation, whose members include manufacturers of retardants, noted that any ruling against decaBDE would create waste problems "in a lot of furniture in the UK".

Wool sofa
Household sofas could contain a deadly chemical that causes thyroid cancer. Alice Wheatley/IBTimes