Could Your Furniture Be Making You Sick?

Could Your Furniture Be Making You Sick?

Janel Laban
Mar 25, 2008

Cleaning out our February magazines, we came across an article we'd flagged in O, The Oprah Magazine. We couldn't find it on the website to slink it, so we thought we'd share what we learned here...

Potential Furniture Issues According to O, The Oprah Magazine, February 2008

    What: Antique Clocks, mirrors, barometers, thermometers and mercury glass lamps.
    Toxin: Mercury.
    Potential Problem: Those cute, elusive little balls of silver, inhaled or touched, can cause headaches...and worse. Remember the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland? Mercury caused his madness.
    What to do: If it spills, skip the vacuum and broom. Use an eyedropper to suck up the little beads. Double-bag everything that the mercury's touched. Call the health department to find out how to dispose of it. For larger spills, find a hazardous materials contractor.
    Shower Curtain Liners, Plastic Tablecloths and other soft, flexible plastics
    Toxin: Phthalates
    Potential Problem: Disrupts reproductive development in boys and men.
    What to do: Avoid it, especially if it has the plasticky smell; that's the warning sign. If you do buy something that has that smell, take it outside. Sunlight breaks down the phthalates.
    Pressed-wood furniture and permanent-press fabrics
    Toxin: Formaldehyde.
    Potential Problem: Associated with nasal and brain cancers and possibly leukemia. Immediate reactions include eye irritation, skin allergies, asthma, nausea and coughing.
    What to do: Choose pressed wood made with PF or MDI resin instead. A veneer or water-resistant coating will reduce emissions. Look for a stamp from the Composite Panel Association (CPA) or the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association (HPVA). Wash permanent press tems before using them.

Originally posted by Abby on AT:LA.

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