The state of California has for many years led the way in protecting its residents from dangers associated with out gassing from harmful chemicals used in furniture production. California law requires manufacturers to provide warnings related to the use of materials known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and neurotoxin and has been found to exist in all sorts of furniture products, including baby cribs and changing tables. To protect your home or office indoor air quality, as well as your children, your employees, and yourself from toxic VOCs, it is of the utmost importance to avoid bringing furniture or other products emitting formaldehyde into your home or office.
Unfortunately, formaldehyde can be found in many furniture products as a component of particle and MDF boards, glues, finishes, stains and paints, and can cause a range of negative health effects, like difficulty in breathing or as trigger of asthma attacks, coughing, nose, eye and throat irritation, fatigue and insomnia. It has been classified as probable human carcinogen by the EPA and the long term effects may not even be fully realized at this time. Recently California’s Attorney General sued furniture makers over dangerous formaldehyde levels, and I feel very confident that legislation in other states will follow suit as more attention is paid to this growing health concern. Lately the large insurgence of foreign furniture and household products has aggravated the issue as there is less stress on standards and production requirements in many of these factories. The best defense is to ask questions and be educated of what is out there and the potential dangers. See the details of the lawsuit here.
One Furniture manufacturer that has made a positive mark on the responsible side of the fence is TEAM 7 which we have reviewed in several posts here at Furniture Fashion in the past year. According to a company spokesman “we need a change in attitude from many manufacturers about what should be used in their furniture. I am very much for the principal of caution and safety when it comes to the health of my family. I am proud to say that since 1980, TEAM 7 has manufactured non-toxic, solid wood furniture that is finished only with natural oils and waxes. Our furniture does not off-gas toxic VOCs, like formaldehyde, that compromise indoor air quality and our health”. For more information about TEAM 7 Principles of Green Design please visit their website and go to the Green Guide.