If you are concerned about toxic exposures in your home and indoor air pollution, take a look at your furniture as a major source of toxic chemical emissions.
Where in the past furniture was made from natural materials such as wood and natural fiber fabrics, today’s furniture is made with manufactured wood products held together with resins and glues and painted with plastics, and synthetic fabrics coated with high-performance finishes that resist stains and retards fires.
Your furniture may be functional and look lovely in the room, but if your furniture is made from modern materials, most likely it is releasing invisible toxic gasses into the air than can build up to high concentrations and affect your health.
HOW FURNITURE, OUTGASSING, AND ENERGY-SAVINGS MAKE SICK ROOMS
Furniture contributes to indoor air quality problems by releasing gasses from the materials that are used to make these items.Collectively, these gasses are known as “VOCs,” which stands for Volatile Organic Chemicals. When released into the air, these gases are called “emissions,” and the process of the gas moving from a material into the air is “outgassing.”
Outgassing is nothing new. It occurs all throughout nature. The outpouring of gasses from the Earth’s over a period of millions of years created the atmosphere that supports life on Earth today.
But in modern times, outgassing of gasses from furniture and other household items can fill your home with toxic air.
Prior to 1973, all homes were built with various cracks and openings that allowed a free flow of air between the inside of the house and the outdoors. Energy used for heating and cooling was cheap, so the efficiency of using crude oil for this purpose didn’t matter much. But when an oil embargo caused prices to skyrocket, oil conservation became an issue and homeowners were encouraged to seal their homes tightly to keep heated and cooled air indoors. While this made homes and buildings more energy efficient, eliminating the natural air exchanges caused outgassing chemicals to accumulate to extremely high levels.
Outgassing chemicals plus tightly sealed buildings result in “sick building syndrome” and illness for occupants.
Outgassing is such a concern that NASA has an entire program to measure and study substances that are outgassing from materials that might be used in space. Released gasses, for example, can condense on camera lenses, making them inoperable in spacecraft. This is so critical that NASA has developed procedures for evaluating materials prior to their use in space.
TOXIC CHEMICALS OUTGASSING FROM WOOD FURNITURE
Much furniture that looks like wood—including tables, shelving units, and stereo speakers— is made from particleboard—a board manufactured from wood bits held together with a formaldehyde-based resin.
The formaldehyde outgasses from the particleboard on a continuous basis, 24-hours a day, for years.
In 1992, the State of California designated formaldehyde as a toxic air contaminant (TAC) with no safe level of exposure.
California, the European Union, and Japan all have labeling standards to warn consumers of the amount of formaldehyde outgassing from products.
The major toxic effects from exposure to formaldehyde are problems with eyes and the respiratory system—from slight to strong irritation to coughing, wheezing, chest pains, and bronchitis.
In 2011, the National Toxicology Program named formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen in its 12th Report on Carcinogens.
TOXIC CHEMICALS OUTGASSING FROM UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE
In upholstered furniture, the main problem materials are synthetic upholstery fabrics, polyurethane foam, stain- and water-resistant finishes, and fire retardants. Of these, the most toxic are fire retardants.
In 2015, a new California law went into effect that allows companies to sell upholstered furniture without fire retardants if they meet certain flammability requirements.
But if you have a sofa or upholstered chair in your home that was purchased before 2015, it’s almost certain you are breathing air filled fire retardants that have outgassed from your upholstered sofa and chairs.
Health effects associated with flame retardants are of high concern. Studies have linked flame retardants to cancer and male infertility. Women with higher levels of flame retardants in their blood take longer to get pregnant, have smaller babies and produce male birth defects. Children exposed in the womb have lower IQs and attention problems, and girls have early puberty. Studies in animals have linked toxic flame retardants to autism and obesity.
REPLACE ALL YOUR FURNITURE
The first rule of thumb for toxic exposures is to remove the source. That would mean removing every piece of furniture from your home that is outgassing toxic chemicals. For most people, that means replacing every piece of furniture.
This is easier said than done. The furniture industry is lagging behind other market sectors when it comes to toxics. Where consumers can choose organic foods and personal care products, organic fiber fashions, many types of water filters, and even organic bed mattresses, finding furniture without toxic chemicals is not so easy.
Solid wood furniture is found at unfinished furniture stores or in high-end designer shops. A natural fiber sofa without fire retardants starts at several thousand dollars.
Furnishing your home entirely with toxic-free material can be done, but it takes effort and money. It’s a project that takes time for most people.
A quick and easy way to reduce many toxic chemicals outgassed by furniture is to purchase an effective air filter. This will allow you to remove the toxic gasses from the air in your home within hours. While you still may want to remove the sources of these toxic chemicals, an air purifier will protect your health while you replacing your furniture It will also protect you from other occasional exposures in your home that may happen by accident.
And while the biggest concern is with gasses, you’ll need an air purifier that removes both gasses and particles. There is a whole subclass of VOCs called “semivolatile organic compounds” (SVOCs) that are adsorbed by particles, making a particle more toxic. You need to remove those too. Most air filters sold in stores remove only particles, to relieve allergies to pollens, dander, and dust. These won’t remove toxic gasses.
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The system is portable so it can easily be moved around your home and office bringing relief where you need it most. Off-gassing furniture will often release a variety of chemistries into your environment which traditional air purification system will struggle to filter out quickly. The EnviroKlenz mobile system technology is versatile enough to put it to the test in environments with high levels of VOCs yet safe enough to leave in the same room as your family and pets. To learn more about how the EnviroKlenz technology compares to carbon and ozone generators click here. All EnviroKlenz mobile system purchases are backed with a 30-day money back guarantee and all unit are shipped free to your door step, to make your purchase today click the shop button below.
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