12 Household Items That Contain Harmful Chemicals (and How to Avoid Them)

Image via Janine

10. Shower curtains. When you unwrapped your new vinyl shower with the colorful seashore scene or bright parrots, did you get a strong whiff of that new curtain smell? That was toxic chemicals, including dozens of volatile organic chemicals and phthalates. Opt for shower curtains made from birch, cotton, hemp, linen, or PEVA.    

11. Upholstered furniture and mattresses. Some couches, chairs, and other upholstered furniture, including mattresses, have been treated with stain-resistant chemicals such as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). PFCs has been named as a cause of birth defects and cancer by some researchers. Furniture also harbors the flame retardants PBDEs, which have been associated with nervous system and brain development problems.

12. Wood furniture and other wood products. Pressed wood products can include furniture, paneling, fiberboard, particle board, and insulation. Such items can off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, which can be in the glue that holds the wood pieces together. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause watery eyes, breathing difficulties, asthma attacks, and burning throat and eyes. Furniture and other wood products also can be covered or finished with paints, varnishes, and lacquers that contain harmful chemicals as well.

As of March 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency noted that there were “no national standards in place for formaldehyde in composite wood products,” but that the agency was working on rules to “set limits on formaldehyde emissions” from such products.

Besides avoiding bringing new wood products into your home, you should keep your home well ventilated to limit exposure to formaldehyde from products already in place. When buying new furniture, search for those that say they have not been treated with formaldehyde and/or have not been assembled using toxic glues and/or have been finished with low or VOC-free finishers.


By Andrea Donsky| August 18, 2017
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

Andrea Donsky

Andrea Donsky

Founder & Chief Passionista at NaturallySavvy.com. See my full bio here.

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