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The Influence of Home Furnishings on Indoor Air Quality
by Charles Baily - As published in Our Toxic Times, Oct/Nov 2003, Pg 34.

Second Life Furniture is the name I gave to the furniture line I created for the multiple chemically sensitive customer. The name itself has many meanings:
    1. First and foremost, I hope it gives the customer a second chance at life; a chance for a burden-free environment. We want to help each person and their families eliminate the strain that our toxic environment places on our bodies. Our second-life creations give each person the enjoyment of owning a piece of furniture designed especially for them.

    2. Second, it gives the tree a second life. Trees were put here for a reason.

    3. Finally, Second Life Furniture gave me, a cabinetmaker, a second life. My life has been dedicated to cabinet and furniture making. Having struggled with many health problems, I have found it hard to work in and around the field of modern-day cabinetry. The use of plywood, laminates, veneers, glues, toxic finishes, formaldehyde, etc., had taken a great toll on me and my family. I have to continually find ways to avoid these products. After much time, effort, study, and many doctors, I have created furniture designs exclusively for the multiple chemically sensitive, which includes me, so that I can work in the field of cabinetry that I enjoy so much, giving me a second chance—a second life.

The houses we live in are built tighter and more energy efficient. In other words, we have successfully figured out how to lock the outdoors out. Which means, we are also keeping the indoors in. What people bring into their home is what they breathe. What you breathe can keep you healthy or make you ill.

Carpets, upholstery, plastics, window coverings, old moldy furniture, particle board furniture, pesticide treatments, fireplaces, and what and how you cook all contribute to your indoor air quality.

People need to personally test everything that comes into their homes and/or that they come in contact with. For example, most are unaware that, as the American Hardwoods Association states, natural lumber is treated with biocides and colorants at the time the tree is cut and during the drying process–long before it is even removed from the forest and goes to market.


Build a safe room for sleeping only; containing nothing but a bed. Meaning, cloth furniture, TVs, or other electrical appliances should not be in this room. However, fresh air must be allowed to come through the windows. Some may want to consider removing all electrical wiring, or at least shut off the electricity, while using the bedroom.

Since this is the place where you spend a lot of your time recuperating, I recommend keeping the sleeping room as clean as possible. Don't clutter. All clothes, clean or dirty, should be removed from your sleeping area. Make sure every piece of furniture, as well as the bedding materials, is toxin-free.


Beware of the words, "solid wood." Solid wood could mean gluedtogether saw dust (a.k.a. particle board). Particle board is made of formaldehyde, petroleum products, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).


The problem with old, used, and antique furniture is that older furniture makers only sealed and finished the outside, leaving the interior unfinished. The unfinished wood absorbs mold and fragrances.


When buying mass-produced furniture, be wary of:
    1. Solid woods for they may not actually be solid

    2. Man-simulated materials

    3. Toxic finishes and sealers

    4. Absorption (furniture or cabinetry can absorb chemicals that may be stored in them or that are being stored next to unsafe materials, or from warehouses being treated for infestations)


Real life nightmares include the use of wrong wooden glues, and finishes, smokers working in the process of construction, contamination from other materials and products being used in the same shop, materials treated with biocides, plywoods, particle boards, the kiln drying process—wood fired, gas fired, kerosene— and much more.

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