You may think that you don’t have to worry about breathing in harmful chemicals and pollutants working inside an office. A desk job may seem like a fairly safe environment without any obvious hazards. The truth is that your office furniture or flooring may contain formaldehyde, fire retardants, and dangerous toxins that are contaminating your office air.
What chemicals and toxins are commonly found in office furniture and flooring?
Formaldehyde – This known carcinogen has been linked to numerous health problems. Continued exposure can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, fatigue and dizziness, respiratory disease and cancer. Formaldehyde may be found in laminate, MDF, OSB, and particle board which are commonly used in office flooring and furniture, as well as in the adhesives used for regular hardwood, carpet and tile.
Fire Retardants – Flame-retardant chemicals have been linked to serious health risks such as cancer, birth defects, neurodevelopmental delays in children, and numerous other ailments. It’s estimated that 90 percent of Americans have some level of flame-retardant chemicals in their bodies. Chlorinated tris (TDCPP) was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s due to concerns that it may cause cancer. Despite the proven hazard, this chemical is commonly used as a flame retardant in upholstered furniture. Another commonly used flame retardant, known as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), has been proven to decrease thyroid function in pregnant women and children, resulting in low birth weights, and impaired neurological development.
Offices with poor ventilation and buildings without windows are most susceptible to reaching dangerously high levels of contamination. If you suffer from any of these symptoms or suspect that your office flooring or furniture contains any of these hazardous chemicals, it is time to take action.
How can I protect myself?
The fastest and most effective way to make sure your office air does not contain hazardous amounts of these dangerous chemicals is to have your air professionally tested. An Office Air Check can help you to identify the presence of formaldehyde in your workplace air and detect other harmful VOCs. Identifying these hazards will be the first step in making the necessary changes to your office to achieve cleaner air.