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How the Dangerous Side Effects of Polyurethane Fumes Can Impact Your Health


Health effects from vocs

When properly maintained, natural hardwood floors can add character to any room for many years, even as generations in some cases! As such, protecting hardwood floors is an absolute must. And while clear polyurethane coatings are often used to protect wood floors and provide a long lasting shine, the potentially harmful side effects of polyurethane fumes are worth considering.

Before having a polyurethane clear coat applied to a wood floor, it’s important to consider the long term side effects of polyurethane fumes. Here are a few of the most concerning:

Respiratory illness

Polyurethane clear coats contain harsh chemical compounds known as VOCs or volatile organic compounds. As the clear coat finish cures, VOCs evaporate into the air where they can nose and throat irritation, difficulty breathing, coughing, shortness of breath, and more. These side effects can be especially dangerous for those who have allergies and asthma. Prolonged exposure to VOCs may lead to chronic lung problems and have even been linked to cancer.

Skin irritation

Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, the harsh chemical compounds in polyurethane clear coats can cause severe skin irritation. This is especially true when direct contact is made, however skin irritation can still occur after indirect contact. People who have suffer from skin disorders such eczema and psoriasis are especially sensitive to the side effects of polyurethane fumes are likely to develop hives, rashes, and irritation after exposure of any kind.

General feelings of discomfort

Perhaps one of the most common side effects of polyurethane fumes is a general feeling of discomfort, including headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, and even vomiting. The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person, but the these side effects of polyurethane fumes can be especially harmful to infants, young children, seniors, and those with existing health challenges.

Although chemical clear coats are far from the ideal treatment for hardwood floors due to the dangerous side effects of polyurethane fumes, there are a variety of effective non toxic options. For example, linseed oil is a natural alternative made from flax. It’s capable of deeply penetrating wood fibers and imparts a glossy, high shine. Not only is linseed oil an excellent protective gloss varnish, it’s also eco-friendly, non-toxic, free of the harsh side effects of polyurethane fumes.

Using non-toxic clear coats and other natural alternatives to polyurethane varnish go a long way in terms of reducing the toxicity of a home and the environment. To learn more about the health effects of VOC, speak to a healthcare specialist or provider. In addition, speaking with a professional contractor or hardwood floor refinisher can help home and business owners explore non-toxic alternatives.

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