Good Question: Furniture and Dry Eyes?

Good Question: Furniture and Dry Eyes?

Jonathan B.
Nov 9, 2007

Can this couch make your eyes feel dry?

Today's good question comes from smile, who's just moved into a new apartment and also writes: I had a doorway closed up with a plaster wall right by the computer. Could that irritate my eyes?

(Note: Include a pic of your problem and your question gets posted first. Email us questions and pics with QUESTIONS in subject line.

Dear Smile,

We're tempted to jump to conclusions and blame the furniture.

The page at IKEA's website for the BEDDINGE lists a number of materials that could be the culprit, including chipboard, polyurethane foam, and fire-retardant cotton. As of a few years ago, IKEA does not use formaldehyde in their products, so that's out as a potential irritant, unless you also have new furniture from elsewhere or are hypersensistive (because it is naturally occurring, nearly everything emits formaldehyde at background levels.) But you could be sensitive to the glue used in the chipboard or the foam in the sofa.

That brings us to the next point: there are a number of other variables here, as well, such as the plaster wall you're sitting next to, in addition to the entire new apartment itself; perhaps a cleaner previously used on the floor or a paint used in your study is irritating your eyes. If you have carpet, that's another can of worms.

So what should you do? If you like the sofa, we'd let it air out for a while longer; crack a window, turn on a fan, and consider moving the computer to another room for the duration. You could always take the sofa back to IKEA and look for a used sofa that's already offgassed, or, if you think it's the synthetic materials that are irritating your eyes, you could look for a new one made with all natural materials.

More resources:
On Combating Mold Indoors
Air Purifiers
Dealing with offgassing from new carpet
Why do new rugs smell bad?
On our own couch-related craigslist foibles

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