Mar 13, 2018
by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
We use our kitchen dining table daily to gather for a quick breakfast, family meals, and (let’s be honest) to hold the mail pile.
It’s a centerpiece of the kitchen or dining room utilized by the entire family.
The type of dining table, and accompanying chairs, that are used are a main furniture pieces in our homes that can be harmful to health.
When choosing a nontoxic dining table and chairs, there are four main factors to consider.
Each of these factors directly affects the amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-organic volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that are off-gassed or released into the home. These chemicals, often found in standard furniture, have been linked to health conditions—like headaches, dizziness, nervous system damage, kidney or liver damage, cancer, birth defects, and reproductive abnormalities. (1)(2)
It’s also important to consider the electrical magnetic fields (EMF) that are amplified by metal products. EMFs have been linked to cancer. (3)
1. Material. The table and chairs can be made from wood, metal, glass, and plastics. The type of wood used is something we should also consider: Is the wood a composite wood (laminated wood, made with plastic resins) or is it a solid wood product? Is the solid wood a softwood—such as pine or cedar—that releases higher amounts of natural VOCs, or a hardwood—such as a maple or oak—that release lower amounts of natural VOCs?
2. Glues & Adhesives. Table and chair parts, like all furniture, are held together with glues and adhesives. Joints—such as dovetail or strengthened with doweling—use glues that reinforce the strength of the joint.
3. Stains, Paints & Finishes. Wood furniture is typically pre-finished, or factory finished, using stains, paints, and finishes that have higher VOCs. Some furniture manufacturers and retail stores sell unfinished furniture, allowing you to finish it with the zero-VOC product of your choice.
4. EMFs. Certain materials, such as metal, are conductors of electricity. They can amplify the magnetic fields in the home that are created by typical electrical wiring (lights, light switches, furnace), computers and electronic devices, televisions, refrigerators and other household items that generate an electrical field when plugged in or in use.
While each type of furniture has its pros and cons, the bottom line is this: the best type of dining table, and accompanying chairs, to use is one of two options: solid hardwood with a zero-VOC finish, or metal frame with glass top.
Chairs should also be solid hardwood with zero-VOC finish and adhesives, and metal, following the advice above. However, some table sets come with cushioned chairs. Below are two additional tips for choosing dining chairs.
Dining tables and chairs are used every day, multiple times a day, by the entire family. When choosing a nontoxic dining table, and accompanying chair set, consider the type of material it’s made from, glues and adhesives used, finishes, and padding (in and on chairs).
Dining tables made with solid hardwood, zero-VOC glues and adhesives, and zero-VOC finishes are one of the best options. There are manufacturers that offer unfinished dining table and chair sets, that you can finish yourself with the zero-VOC finish of your choice.
Dining tables made from metal and a glass top are another nontoxic option to consider. Opt for metal with baked-on paint to reduce the amount of manufacturing oils and increase the decorative properties.
Chairs are often part of the dining set, and are made with similar materials, glues, and finishes as the table. In instances where the chairs are padded, opt for fillings and coverings made from natural materials, such as natural rubber or wool filling and natural cotton covering.
In 2020, we're deconstructing our home, habits, and things to reconstruct a practical nontoxic and healing lifestyle. We're bringing consciousness to unconscious choices.
This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Views expressed in this article by an expert are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Nontoxic Living or Ruan Living.
Access Sophia's shopping list for her household staples. They're her favorite low toxic items that she can't live without. Also see which EMF protection products she uses.