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Finding Furniture

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Author: the Inkslinger

As someone who recently moved to a “new” house and is doing a bit of furnishing, I’ve been concerned about what those furnishings might do to our new home’s air quality. This excellent article from yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle shows why.

It’s something not a lot of people realize: home furnishings can be a prime source unhealthy formaldehyde, flame retardants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other chemical bugaboos that get loose and pollute indoor environments. Things to watch out for range from out-gassing formaldehyde from pressed wood products to stain and fire-retardant treatments. Here’s a quick list of ways that my wife and I are trying to keep these things down to a minimum as we try to find a place to sit around here:

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Let’s Stop Being Stupid About Smelling Nice

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We’ve known it for a long time... Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are bad news. But new research from the National Institute of Environmental Health Services (NIEHS) has now found that one particularly common VOC is particularly hazardous.

According to a just-released NIEHS study, the chemical, 1,4 dicholorobenzene (1,4 DCB), is likely reducing lung functioning in people exposed to it. 1,4 DCB is a chemical found in many air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners, mothballs, and other deodorizing products. According to the NIEHS, “even a small reduction in lung function may indicate some harm to the lungs.” The agency suggests that the use of such products and materials be reduced, especially around children and those who have asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

That’s an important statement, but the bigger point of the study is this: We live in a world where there’s no one to protect our families from ordinary consumer products. We all need to be our own gate keepers. Let’s start by getting smart about smelling nice.

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