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  • Writer's pictureartifexaustralia

Sitting on toxic chemicals

Are you living with Cancer-Causing furniture?

For most of us, working at a desk during the day and relaxing on the couch in the evening is routine. Sure, there is a lot of other things that happen during a day but there is no denying furniture plays a large part in our work and home lives. From dining tables, beds and sofas to work desks and restaurant seating, furniture surrounds us.

Today we ask, have you ever considered the negative impacts your furniture might carry to the environment and to your own health? The furniture you sit on and use might look good but having it in your house and office could be causing more harm than good.

The Australasian Furniture Association (AFA) previously researched and reported their concerns about hazardous AZO dyes in clothing and bed linen which have been extended to include textiles and leather used in the manufacture of furniture in Australia and contained in imported products. The ACCC are alerted to potential exposure to chemicals such as formaldehyde from bonded leather in imported furniture.

Furniture that is imported is more likely to contain toxic materials and chemicals used in the manufacturing and shipping process. This is because there are chemicals used when making imported goods that are not approved here in Australia. These can be found in the foams, glues, timbers and even fabrics used in furniture manufactured overseas.

These chemicals are toxic to humans and our environment and there is a reason they are banned in Australian manufactured goods. For example, Formaldehyde is a colourless gas with a strong, irritating odour that can be present in an imported sofa that you will be sitting and breathing in for the rest of that sofa’s life.

So, should you live a simple life with no furniture? The answer is no and instead the key is to understand and where possible, control what you allow yourself to be exposed to. The easiest way to do this is by making more informed decisions on your furniture purchases.

  • Do your research and don't be afraid to ask questions

  • Steer clear of all discount furniture particularly furniture made from panels of flat board which often have a faux timber plastic layer

  • Look for Australian made furniture that is manufactured using Australian made textiles and foams which are prohibited to use to use these harmful chemicals

  • Buy Formaldehyde-free furniture made from solid wood, stainless steel, or particleboard that does not contain formaldehyde.

  • Choose furniture products made with untreated polyurethane foam, or foam alternatives such as cotton, wool, and natural latex.

  • Replace or reupholster furniture that has damaged upholstery or crumbling foam.

  • Look at opportunities of purchasing and upcycling good quality, pre-loved furniture items

Low-cost, low-quality imported furniture may seem like a good idea and short-term fix, but it’s your health and our planet that ends up footing the bill. Think sustainable. Buy good quality products built to last a lifetime.

The AFA will continue to watch these international developments and provide updates to AFA Members and the wider community. The AFA encourages consumers to report any incidents of suspected exposures, or their concerns directly to the ACCC.

Written by Artifex Australia.

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