MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Does Leather Off-Gas Chemicals

Date: Sat Mar 27 09:58:41 2010
Posted By: Tony Gaglierd, Assistant Professor , Natural Science and Engineering Technology
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 1269463032.Ch

Elin asked do the chemicals used during the tanning process off-gas when you sit on leather furniture? Would it be possible to absorb the chemicals if we sat on the sofa in shorts for example? Would an older sofa have off-gassed, so that it would now be safe? How many years would it take for leather to off-gas?

Much of the off-gassing from furniture is from formaldehydes emitted from conventional particleboard and plywood used in the construction of the furniture.

Padding and stuffing used in furniture and upholstered products are often made from polyurethane foam, which can off-gas toluene diisocyanate, known to cause severe lung problems and other symptoms.

Many conventional fabrics can off-gas a myriad of chemicals, including formaldehyde, which is used to keep them stain and wrinkle free.

The good news is that, unlike fabric upholstery, leather (real leather) seals in most of the chemicals.

Off-gassing should normally take about 6 months, so you should be good to go in a month or so.

You can try airing the furniture or the room out, or put a few coats of a leather conditioner/sealer on it.

Since the chemicals are volatile they are going into the air, so the major route of exposure is via inhalation and not skin contact.

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