How Long Does New Furniture Off Gas?


Have you recently bought new furniture, e.g., a bed frame, shelving unit, desk, or couch? Perhaps you don’t know why you’re feeling tired, crabby, foggy, or lightheaded? Your new furniture might cause such symptoms from the toxic fumes that certain furniture off-gasses. 

Typically, furniture is made from different types of materials that may contain dangerous chemicals found in glues, adhesives and wood stains. Such chemicals may escape into your home's air and affect your indoor air quality. You can find most of these chemicals on the EPA’s Hazardous Air Pollutants database.

In this article, we'll explain what is off gassing, how long new furniture off-gasses and what to do to reduce the health effects of the toxic chemicals released non only by furniture, but also other household products.


So What Is Off-Gassing?


The process called off-gassing takes place when certain volatile organic compounds used in the production of numerous household items are emitted into the air that you actually breathe. Everything off-gasses in one way or another– if there is a smell, then it is off-gassing.

Although you’ll learn more about what VOCs are as you read on, you should note that the process of off-gassing is a common thing in new household products for two primary reasons. Firstly, the process starts when the new item gets exposed to the air, and, secondly, the use of VOCs is very common in many newly manufactured products.

Furthermore, off-gassing does not stop once the smell stops. Although the 'new smell' might disappear after one week or so, the fumes are still released. Off-gassing may last between six months to five years based on the household product and the chemicals applied to treat it.


Furniture Off-Gassing and Indoor Air Quality


There’s a family of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and a different family of chemicals known as semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). VOCs and SVOCs are mostly found in cushions, furniture, and carpets.

You can also find these chemicals on the HAPs list. All of these chemicals affect your indoor air quality, making the air potentially unhealthy to breathe. So, what exactly are these materials?

  • Parts of furniture, such as frames of chairs and sofas, tops of tables, consoles, or dressers, can be built with composite wood (usually also known as “pressed wood” or “engineered wood”, such as particle board or MDF). This sort of wood is typically made from adhesives and wood particles, or resins that keep the wood particles together. The resins and adhesives are made from chemicals that emit VOCs and SVOCs.
  • Cushions and Padding. They are usually made from polyurethane foam. This type of foam may contain numerous chemicals that are classified under the VOC, SVOCs, and HAP lists.
  • Finishes. Metal and wood paints, veneers, wood stains and sealers, melamine, and laminates are types of finishes that are mostly used in furniture to get that finished look. Stains, sealers, and paints usually have large quantities of VOCs and SVOCs.
  • Laminate, made using an extremely thin wood piece in resin or a resin that’s printed to resemble wood, is often made from a mixture of chemicals. Veneer, a thin hardwood piece that’s stuck to the furniture surface for a specific look, is usually glued with adhesives that off-gas. Melamine is also a resin that’s made from chemicals such as formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is one of the primary ingredients.
how to speed up furniture off gassing

How Long Will New Furniture Off-Gas?


It depends: that’s the short answer. Two larger groups of chemicals are commonly known for off-gassing:

  • VOCs off-gas throughout the product’s life. Nevertheless, off-gassing mostly occurs in the first several years. This differs when it comes to the actual number of years that VOCs significantly off-gas, and it depends on the materials since their chemicals have different levels of off-gassing and different VOC concentrations.
  • Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs). They off-gas consistently and more slowly throughout the product’s life. Although SVOCs are equally as important as VOCs, they have received comparably less attention because they are tougher to measure, and thus, harder to understand. SVOCs and certain chemicals off-gas and can stick to other porous materials, such as fabric. They also stick to dust particles. If SVOCs adhere to dust and fabrics, then can be removed by dusting and washing the fabric regularly.

What Are the Potential Health Risks from The Furniture Off-Gassing?


When products like furniture off-gas, certain chemicals are released into the air. We then inhale, ingest, and absorb these toxic substances at home. Health risks from prolonged exposure to VOCs and SVOCs can either be short-term and/or long-term. Some examples are listed below:

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)


· Headache

· Irritation of eyes, throat, and nose

· Dizziness

· Nausea and vomiting

· Cancer

· Increased asthma

· Damage to the central nervous system

· Kidney and liver damage


SVOCs (Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds)


· Retarded reproductive development

· Allergic reactions

· Asthma

· Diabetes

· Cancer

· Infertility

· Hormone disruption

· Attention deficit disorder


How to Speed Up Furniture Off-Gassing?


There are various ways you can accelerate the off-gassing process. However, first, we would like to discuss the safest way of doing this.

Off-gassing is risky to human health since it means concentrating fumes dangerous to human health in an enclosed space. A small quantity of the substances in question — VOCs — is not that bad. If you breathe in a lot, however, it can cause problems.

The trick to speeding off-gassing is to perform it in a well-ventilated space. Outdoors is perfect. Otherwise, choose a spot with much open space. For instance, a room with open windows and high ceilings will be quite effective. You may also install a fan to maintain constant airflow.

After you’ve chosen your space, ensure there’s maximum airflow throughout your furniture and take off all of its coverings. Coverings can catch chemicals emitted during the off-gassing procedure.

Leave it there for at least a day. If possible, 2-3 days would be perfect. Although it may not eliminate the off-gassing, it can reduce it significantly and perhaps even to the point whereby it poses no risk to your family. It will eliminate the chemical smell linked to off-gassing.

how long does furniture off gas


What Should You Do with New Furniture That Off-Gasses?

  • Reduce Off-Gassing. You should begin by choosing furniture with the least chemicals possible to lower off-gassing. Lowering your exposure to VOCs is the ideal strategy for safeguarding your health. 
  • Unpack Outdoors. Once the plastic is removed from furniture (or other household items), VOCs and SVOCs get into your indoor air. Try removing packaging outdoors to make sure the original concentrated off-gassing fumes remain outside your house.
  • Air Out Furniture. Typically, hard surface furniture may be left outdoors to air out, just remember to leave it in the shade as direct sunchine may discolor it. If you cannot put your furniture outside, try opening windows in the room and letting the fresh air in. You can also use fans to allow the air to circulate faster. 
  • Use an Air Purifier. Typically, air filtration units with a HEPA filter or active charcoal can help eliminate airborne gases. Try placing air purifiers with a HEPA filter in rooms where furniture is off-gassing.

Buying Non-Toxic Furniture


Many furniture brands are choosing to offer non toxic furniture to eco-consious and health conscious consumers. Their products are made from responsibly sourced solid wood with zero-VOC finishes and no toxic adhesives. Some of these brands are Greenguard GOLD certified, which guarantees they won't release any harmful gases, others use GOTS certified materials and more. Take a look at our picks:

Medley Home Furniture

Materials: Solid Wood (Walnut or Maple), Bamboo, Natural Latex, Wool, Certi-Pur Certified Foam

Wood Finishes: Natural Beeswax

Warranty: Lifetime

Medley Home is a digital furniture store that deals with zero VOC furniture typically made from natural and sustainable materials, mostly solid wood. Their natural wod finishes include beeswax, olive oil, and carnauba wax that contain no harmful chemicals.

Their upholstered furniture and sofas are made with no dangerous flame retardants or other toxic substances. Their fabrics are also completely natural, e.g., hemp, wool, and certified organic cotton.

Medley Home furnishings are well-designed using traditional methods and several new modern tools and touch to complete them. The quality is still a priority and so does their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint as they make great pieces. They usually shape their work to your specific needs, tastes, and preferences. You may bypass mass-produced items and instead select a piece that is as unique as you are.


Avocado Furniture

Material: Reclaimed Douglas Fir Solid Wood

Finish: Zero-VOC sealant

Warranty: 10 Years

Promo Code: BED150 (Save $150 on a bed frame with mattress)


Avocado Green is a Los Angeles-based organic mattress and bedding manufacturer. They have recently introduced an attractive collection of reclaimed wood bedroom furniture. Their furniture pieces are always eco-friendly and include non-toxic bed frames and dressers with zero-VOC finish. Apart from being an eco-friendly practice, using reclaimed wood also makes all pieces of furniture distinct with their texture and imperfections.

Being old is a perk that comes with this wood. Old, mature wood has generally had time to become harder and highly durable. New lumber, or younger wood, warps and bends a lot easier. And this is not what you’re looking for in your furniture.

Since Avocado participates in the Sustainable Furnishings Council, you can have your new organic furniture with peace of mind knowing that you’re contributing to a much healthier, environmentally-friendly lifestyle. You can combine an organic mattress with Avocado non-toxic bed frames to have a chemical-free bedroom.

Copeland Furniture

Material: Solid Wood

Finish: Non-Toxic Finish

Warranty: Unlimited

Copeland furniture typically makes nontoxic hardwood furniture (Greenguard certified) for your healthy household. This company based in Vermont has been specializing in furniture since the 1970s. When it comes to their designs, you can get traditional and contemporary furniture pieces built from natural wood and usually finished without VOC stains.

Copeland’s non-toxic furniture collections, with zero flame retardants, include dining and living room furniture, bedroom furniture, and home office furniture.

They’ve discovered an incredible balance between old methods and craftsmanship, and organic contemporary furniture. They also work with the Forest Stewardship Council and Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program to have sustainably sourced wood. 

Since Copeland dedicate themselves to being environmentally friendly, they cut down waste and fossil-fuel usage (they find nearby wood sources rather than having to move it over long distances). They utilize wood waste from production to heat their factory and ultimately lower their use of imported oil.


What Other Home Products Off-Gas?


VOCs and other chemicals off gas from a wide range of home products, causing indoor air pollution and unpleasant symptoms, especially in people with chemical sensitivities. Consider this list of the worst offenders:

  • New Mattress: Mattresses made of memory foam can release toxins into the air and affect your sleep quality. If you want to buy a memory foam mattress, go for one with CertiPur-US certificate, this guarantees low levels of toxic compounds used in the foam. If you can afford to spend a little bit more on a mattress, consider an organic mattress made from natural latex, organic cotton and wool. These mattresses contain no synthetic materials, therefore there´s no dangerous off-gassing.
  • Cleaning Products. They can be a source of high amounts of VOCs that get released into your indoor air every time you use them. Consider switching to natural household cleaners with safe ingredients that aren´t toxic to you or the environment.
  • New Carpet. Carpets made from synthetic materials, such as polypropylene, can be a source of significant VOCs emissions. If you want to clean have clean air at home, choose natural carpets and rugs made of sisal, jute or organic cotton.
  • Wall Paint. Another source of air pollution indoors can be wall paint. fortunately, there are many types of non-toxic paint available nowadays, including zero-VOC and water-based paint.
  • Other products that could be a potential source of VOCs include shower curtains, floor coverings and solid wood products painted with toxic wood stains and paints.

Conclusion


Have you recently bought new furniture and are noticing symptoms? You can either let the furniture off-gas longer or simply return it to the store. If you’re preparing to purchase furniture, try buying pieces built with natural materials. Check out the material, coloring, and finishes applied for the formation of the frame, cushion or padding, and covering.

You should also unpack furniture outdoors to allow gases trapped in that packaging to be released out of your house. Once inside, fill your home with fresh air to enable gases to dissipate to the outdoors. Operating an air purifier may also help lower the number of airborne gases from your new furniture's off-gassing.

Thanks to advanced research and planning, off-gassing from toxic chemicals in new furniture can be reduced along with health effects.

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