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What’s in Office Furniture? The Truth May Surprise You

June 8, 2016

You sit at your desk every day of the work week. You spend approximately 40 hours a week in your office. What you don’t know about your office furniture and flooring is enough to make you sick, literally.

Office air pollutants are becoming more publicly recognized thanks to an increase in accessibility and affordability in office air testing. Office air quality tests that were once hard to find and expensively priced are now widely available online and reasonably priced for the small business owner. Office Air Check is a trusted brand that will alert you to the presence of hundreds of VOCs that may be contaminating your office air.

There are dozens of toxic chemicals used in the paint, varnish, and lacquers used on office furniture. Furniture may also be treated with chemical fire retardants. Flooring and furniture may contain formaldehyde. Adhesives used in carpeting and laminate flooring may contain formaldehyde and ethylene oxide. All of these toxic chemicals can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms and pose more serious health threats.

Upholstered office furniture is treated with numerous toxic chemicals. Any upholstered furniture treated with products to promote stain and water resistance often contain formaldehyde and perfluorooctanoic acid, which are both known carcinogens recognized by the EPA. Older furniture made before 2006 may be filled with polyurethane foam containing flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which has been banned in several states because of the serious health threats associated with exposure to this chemical.

The dyes that are commonly used to color office furniture may contain benzidine, which is also a known carcinogen. Hydrazine, another chemical commonly used in textile dyes, has been categorized as a probable carcinogen.

If you are wondering how you can protect yourself, you are not alone. As the potential hazards of being exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace become common knowledge, more workers are asking management to address their concerns. Protection against VOCs is no longer only a concern for workers employed by chemical companies, manufacturers, or that are consistently exposed to airborne irritants in a factory. Employees that work in a small office setting furnished with composite laminate flooring and furniture may suffer the some of the same health problems as employees working in factories.

Whether you are experiencing chronic asthma and allergy flare ups at work, or if you simply suspect your office furniture and flooring is emitting toxic chemical fumes into the air, have your office air tested and start addressing your indoor air quality concerns.