Even brand new furniture can be full of toxic chemicals used in various “harmless” features. These compounds that make furniture comfy to lounge around in belong to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a class of chemicals.
VOCs are compounds that act as toxic gases. They can pollute the air and once inhaled, can cause negative side effects like “eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea.” VOCs can even harm your liver, kidneys, and your central nervous system. Some VOCs can also cause cancer.
Listed below are some of the various toxins that can be found in furniture.
- Acetaldehyde — A chemical used in perfumes for that “new-car” or “new-furniture” smell, polyester resins, dyes, rubber production, and for tanning agent production.
- Benzene — Benzene can be found in detergents and dyes, which can be used on your furniture. It is also used as a solvent for waxes, resins, and plastics that are used to make furniture.
- Formaldehyde — A a colorless chemical with a strong odor, formaldehyde is often found in pressed-wood products, glues, adhesives, plywood, fabrics, and coatings for various products.
- Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) — HBCH belongs to a category of toxic flame retardants.
- Perchloroethylene — Commonly used for dry cleaning fabrics and metal degreasing.
- Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) — Often used to make carpets, leathers, and upholstering to waterproof and stain-resistant.
- Phthalates — A class of chemicals used in various products, phthalates are used on floor tiles, furniture upholstery, carpet backings, and packaging for different products.
- Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers — These are additional flame retardants classified in a cluster because they contain several chemical combinations. They seep out of foams, plastics, and fabrics. They can pollute the air and accumulate in the environment.
- Trichloroethylene — A VOC used as a solvent for dry cleaning and metal degreasing.
- Vinyl Acetate — A chemical used to make polyvinyl, adhesives, paints, films, and lacquers.
Removing toxins in your furniture
Here’s how to remove or minimize the toxin levels in your furniture:
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- Air purifiers and PCO cleaners — A high-quality air filter can significantly reduce the dangerous chemicals that are released into the air from your furniture. Take note that while PCO cleaners use UV light to change gas-based pollutants into harmless products, they can’t remove particles like air purifiers.
- Baking soda — A lot of VOCs are acidic so you can use baking soda, which is alkaline, as a deodorizer. Baking soda can trap harmful gases and provide some relief. Sprinkle baking soda on your furniture or over carpets. Using the brush attachment on your vacuum, work it into the material. Let the baking soda sit for a while, then vacuum the furniture or carpet clean.
- Charcoal filters — Use a charcoal filter to remove some of the VOCs in the air. Always change the filters to maximize its efficacy.
- House plants — Several varieties of house plants can help absorb chemicals in the air. Try some purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata), English ivy, purple heart, foxtail fern, and wax plant, which all have incredible air-filtering abilities. (Related: 8 Air Purifying Plants to Naturally Clear Toxins From Your Home.)
- Ventilation and “off-gassing” — After you buy new furniture, let it “air out” on your lawn or garage. This lets the chemicals evaporate from the furniture quickly. This won’t eliminate VOCs completely, but it can help off-gas other VOCs.
Aside from following the tips above, you can also minimize the toxins in your home by getting rid of any toxic cleaning products that you own. Replace them with eco-friendly products that can be bought from the local natural market.
You can even make your own cleaning products. Try some vinegar and water for a natural disinfectant and degreaser. Baking soda with some clove oil can help disinfect your bathroom.
Ensure that your home is also well-ventilated. Regularly air out the rooms to prevent the accumulation of chemicals.
It’s virtually impossible to eliminate all the toxins in your home, but these tips can help minimize exposure.
You can read more articles about other toxins and how to avoid them at Toxins.news.