Mar 12, 2018
by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
When buying furniture the first consideration is usually about the look and feel of the furniture. Not about how it may be affecting health.
Furniture and other home furnishings often contain formaldehyde. In this article you will find:
Formaldehyde is a colorless flammable gas. (1) It off-gases at room temperature and falls into a category of chemicals called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Formaldehyde can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin.
Commonly found in flooring, carpets, glues, adhesives, furniture, cleaners, paints, finishes, insulation, composite wood products (plywood, particleboard, fiberboard), cabinets, drapes, textiles, furniture, and so many more products, formaldehyde is used as a preservative, fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant. (2)
Formaldehyde in furniture side effects can be short- and long-term.
Formaldehyde can cause short-term health effects—such as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, headaches, dizziness, nausea (3) and nosebleeds. (4)
Formaldehyde is considered a “known” or “probable” human carcinogen by the following organizations (5):
Choose formaldehyde-free products—such as ceramic tile or solid hardwood flooring, paints and finishes that are zero- or low-VOC, solid wood furniture, formaldehyde-free or solid hardwood cabinets, all-natural cleaners, and drapes without “permanent press”, “easy care” or other specialty finishes.
Ask manufacturers or retailers for products labeled as “formaldehyde free.”
If you choose to purchase products that contain formaldehyde, even in small amounts, ventilate the area where the item is located. Lowering the temperature and humidity level in the home could reduce off-gassing of formaldehyde; however, it will not prevent it.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Mail Code: 7404T
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
111 T.W. Alexander Drive
Durham, N.C. 27709
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
4770 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30341 USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636), TTY: 888-232-6348
When choosing furniture, drapery, flooring or other home furnishing and building materials, consider the look, feel and how it may be affecting health. Given the short- and long-term health effects of formaldehyde, opt for products that are formaldehyde-free. In times where formaldehyde-free is not an option, be sure to ventilate the area and keep temperatures and humidity low.
(1) U.S. EPA
Would you like to join a community of like-minded conscious consumers as well?
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