Formaldehyde warning for baby furniture

May 6, 2008 12:42:54 PM PDT
There is a new warning for parents that some baby furniture could be toxic because it contains formaldehyde, which can pollute the air in your baby's nursery.

It's not a panic situation, although it is cause for concern. Baby furniture won't guarantee allergies or asthma, but it could raise the risk in the infants by up to 39 percent. The worst offender was a Child Craft oak crib that was partially made out of particle board. The problem for parents is that it is not easy to tell by looking; one crib that had safe levels of formaldehyde is almost identical to the one that puts out five times the amount doctors believe is safe.

Environment California, a non-profit environmental advocacy group, prepared the report. They bought 21 pieces of kids furniture from a couple of big resellers and sent them to an independent lab which performed tests and found which ones put out the most formaldehyde. The worry for parents is that there was no correlation between a high price and lower levels of formaldehyde. The testing found that particle board composite wood parts that uses a glue is dangerous for kids.

"Composite wood is often made with an adhesive that is formaldehyde based. It doesn't have to be, there are alternatives out there. In fact, the leading manufacturer in Northern California of some of the composite wood components uses a safer form of adhesive," said Rachel Gibson, Environment California.

"That when it comes to toxic exposures - yes, it's a little bit of a problem for us as adults, but it is a much bigger problem for young kids. The EPA has found that when it comes to carcinogens, something that would have a minor impact on us would be 10 times more potent for young children. So with babies, it is the time in life when you want to be really careful with this," said Alan Greene, Stanford pediatrics professor.

The level that doctors believe to be safe, or at least less harmful, is 16 parts per billion of formaldehyde. The Child Craft oak crib had levels of about 75 parts per billion of formaldehyde.

So what can parents do? They can ventilate the child's room - that is the most important thing to do is keep air flowing through the room. Parents can also put certain plants in the home that help clear the air.

Child Craft's president responded by saying his company follows all regulation about the level and the amount of chemicals given off by their products. They also said this is foolishness in the name of science. They also claim they haven't made the oak crib that this organization is talking about in quiet a while; Environment California said it has bought everything within the last couple of months.


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