Chemicals in Your Furniture That Can Make You Sick

Chemicals in Your Furniture That Can Make You Sick

In the recent series of blog entries about safe building materials, we’ve gone over the concerns of different types of insulation materials. We’ve also discussed some of the warning signs associated with toxic, foreign drywall. We’ve talked about what to look for when choosing your paint, and we’ve also helped you consider the different flooring surfaces, and what’s going to best suit your family. Now that we’ve reached the final stages our remodel, we’re going to take a close look at how new furnishings, specifically cabinets and other furniture, can endanger air quality and environmental safety inside your home — and what you can do to prevent this problem.

The amount of home furnishing choices available today can really be overwhelming. From big box retailers to online retailers, as well as social media platforms and DIY websites, and even custom cabinet and furniture makers, the options are seemingly endless. When it comes to furniture though, we come back to the concept of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). These are chemicals that are found in resins, adhesives, plastic coverings, paints, finishes, flame retardants and sealants — all very common additions to new furniture. However, these chemicals don’t stay there. Through a process call off-gassing, the chemicals slowly leak into the air over months and years filling the house with their particles. This is one reason that new furniture tends to “smell funny,” especially with changes in the weather.

In the past, more cabinetry and furniture was built using solid hardwood. This was especially true for kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. Many of the products that you’ll find on the market today contain plywood or other engineered wood products.  Unlike solid wood, these products are held together using resins and other adhesives that can off-gas into your home for years. There are multiple benefits of choosing hardwood cabinetry and furniture. While it may be more expensive, the construction is generally far superior making the products last longer and worth the extra investment.

There really are so many things to consider when it comes to choosing furnishings for your home, so we put together a list of considerations that will help promote better indoor air quality in your home.

Check Certifications

Fortunately, there are certifications for furniture that avoid hazardous chemicals or at least emits such a low level of airborne chemicals that it’s not a health concern. Specifically, look for the “Greenguard” certification when shopping for furniture.

When buying furniture with fabrics, look at natural materials. That includes rubber instead of foam and natural fabrics that are free of chemical treatments. Fortunately, natural materials have grown more common in furniture in recent years, so you should be able to find the right options.

Use Formaldehyde-Free Plywood

When solid wood isn’t appropriate for the application or doesn’t fit in the budget, look for furnishings that specifically state they use formaldehyde-free plywood materials. The same goes for any other renovation that makes use of plywood during construction.

Buy Unfinished or VOC-Free Finish Products

As we’ve mentioned before, VOC’s from paints and other finishes can impact the health of your family. There are a surprising number of “unfinished” furniture products that retain their beauty without the danger of VOCs. You can also look for products that specifically use natural or VOC-free finishes that still help protect the furniture without any dangers of off-gassing.

Use 100% Natural Fabrics

When buying furniture with fabrics, look at natural materials. That includes rubber instead of foam and natural fabrics that are free of chemical treatments. Fortunately, natural materials have grown more common in furniture in recent years, so you should be able to find the right options.

From kitchen and bathroom renovations to custom home additions, homeowners through out East Cobb turn to us for all their home renovation needs. Quality Craftsmen is proud to be recognized as Certified Green Professionals, Earthcraft Builders, and Certified Aging Place Specialists. We have the training and expertise to help clients of all ages remodel their homes with more functionality and environmentally sustainable principles.  Contact us today to start your renovation project!

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