Furniture, Mattresses, Floors: The Concerns with Off-gassing
Most of our exposure to environmental pollutants occurs by breathing the air within our homes. Furniture, bedding and flooring are some of the products that can release potentially harmful chemicals into the air in your home. These airborne chemicals are commonly referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and the evaporation of these chemicals is known as off-gassing.
There may be anywhere from 50 to hundreds of individual VOCs in indoor air at any one time. Some may produce objectionable odors at very low levels, but many have no noticeable smell. With just a few smart choices, you can reduce potential chemical exposure and help your family breathe easier.
Engineered wood, wood finishes and upholstered materials tend to be prolific sources of VOCs, such as formaldehyde. Whenever possible, opt for solid wood furniture over pressed wood furniture. If this isn’t possible, allow the furniture to air out in a space that is not heavily occupied.
Look for UL’s GREENGUARD mark on mattresses. The GREENGUARD mark signifies that samples have been tested for low chemical emissions by a third party, independent company. You can trust that you will have a healthier sleep.
Flooring can have a major impact on indoor air quality due to its large surface area: the larger a product’s surface area, the more VOCs it is likely to release. If you are thinking about new flooring, be sure to look for hardwood, laminate or tile flooring that has UL’s GREENGUARD certification. Alternatively, opt for carpet that is Green Label Plus certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute.