Healthy Furniture without Pollutants
As more people are becoming educated about toxins in the environment, more furniture companies are working to reduce or eliminate pollutants in their products. However, as a cautious consumer, you cannot always take a manufacturer’s claims at face value. Something labeled “eco-friendly” or “natural” could very well be laden with toxic chemicals as there are no laws governing these types of claims. It pays to know what questions to ask and what substances to look out for when shopping for furniture.
Treatments to make fabrics and upholstery stain resistant contain dioxin, which is a carcinogen. It is best to avoid all furniture that is labeled stain resistant. Many furniture stores like fashionforhome.com offer the treatment as an option with a purchase, but some include it for free. Nevertheless, they should request already before whether they want such a treatment or not. Be sure to state emphatically that you do not want this treatment. When it comes to choosing upholstered furniture, natural, organic fibers are best.
Flame retardants, or PBDEs, are used to retard flames in mattresses, upholstered furniture, foam padding and some plastics in electronics. Exposure to PBDEs can alter brain function and lead to learning disabilities and behavior problems. Newer foam products do not contain PBDEs, and many electronics companies are phasing it out as well, but always check with the manufacturer to insure that PBDEs are not present before making a purchase.
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a hazardous material found in plastics, vinyl and artificial leather. Exposure to this toxic chemical has been shown to cause liver damage, cancer and a compromised immune system. Replace any plastic, inflatable or vinyl furniture with wood, natural fabrics or real leather to reduce the possibility of PVC-related illnesses.
The best choices for solid furniture are solid wood, glass and metal. Avoid any compressed wood products such as particle board, plywood or fiberboard, as they are often made with glues containing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde exposure can cause a host of problems, from skin rashes to cancer. Some furniture stores now use less toxic glues in their manufactured wood products, so you can look for them if you need less expensive options. However, the safest bet is to purchase solid wood furniture that isn’t treated with toxic glues.
What Else Can You Do?
Aside from buying pollutant-free furniture, there are other steps you can take to make your home safer from pollutants. Chances are you already have some furniture that contains harmful chemicals. These chemicals often make their way into the air and dust around your home. Until you are able to replace all your furniture with pollutant-free items, it is important to dust, vacuum and mop frequently. It is also wise to ventilate the home by opening windows and doors whenever possible.
A Healthy Home
Reducing or eliminating toxic furniture in the home can do wonders for your family’s health and well-being. Once you know what harmful chemicals to avoid when buying furniture, you’ll be on the right path to making your home the healthy haven it should be.