About ToxicTrailers.com

ToxicTrailers.com was launched after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when the government spent more than $2 billion on FEMA trailers with high levels of formaldehyde that sickened thousands of people. The FEMA trailer tragedy exposed what is a widespread problem in RVs, mobile homes, modular buildings and even conventional buildings that use pressed wood products. Unfortunately, as we approach the tenth anniversary of Katrina, formaldehyde regulations are not being enforced in the U.S., and people's health is at risk. If you are having burning eyes, congestion, sore throat, coughing, breathing difficulties, frequent sinus infections or rashes, and difficulties concentrating, you may have a formaldehyde problem. For questions or to share your story, write 4becky@cox.net.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

formaldehyde in children's furniture

This past June I set out to purchase new bedroom furniture for my daughters, ages 3 and 5. I had heard a little about the dangers of formaldehyde, so I made up my mind to NOT purchase furniture with particle board or MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) in it.

I went to some lengths to research furniture options--checking the websites of manufacturers such as Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod. I dismissed these retailers as options because they clearly listed particle board as part of the furniture construction.

I researched other children's furniture manufacturers, and found a manufacturer from Canada called AP Industries - whose website claims they are a "manufacturer of high quality bedroom furniture made of birch, for baby to adult." I liked the look of the product and was happy it was made from birch (no mention of particle board or MDF anywhere on their website:
www.apindustries.com).

I went to a high-end children's furniture store in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

- I told the salesperson who greeted me that I wanted all wood furniture.
- I expressed to her my concerns about particle board/MDF.
- She gave me information that said the AP Industries set was "solid wood and solid veneers."
- I told her I didn't want veneers because of my concerns about particle board.
- She explained to me that veneer was real wood, it was just "shaved very thin."
- What she neglected to reveal to me was that veneer was real wood that covered PARTICLE BOARD.
- From an in-store review, I could not see particle board as part of the construction of the model furniture. (I did not crawl on my hands and knees to look under it - or lift up the mattresses to peer at the supports.)
- I spent almost $4,000 on what I was told was high-end solid wood furniture.
- After the order was built and delivered to my home, I could clearly see-and smell-the particle board in the bed supports and when I took out the dresser drawers, etc.
- I called the store manager and told him that the info they provided to me said that the furniture was "solid wood and solid wood veneers."He said, yes - solid wood and solide wood veneers "over particle board."
- I told him that this was misleading and he agreed.
- I asked him to research whether formaldehyde was used in the glue in the particle board.
- He called the manufacturer and was told that parts of the furniture used"low end particle board" and parts "higher-end particle board." That is all the informatiion that the manufacturer had in regard to the materials used in their "high quality furniture."
- The contract I signed stipulated no returns on special orders.
- They refuse to do anything further for me.

I went online and conducted some searches on formaldehyde and testing - and came across information about the FEMA trailers. I purchased a formaldehyde test kit from Advanced Chemical Sensors, Inc. in Boca Raton. After we had had the furniture in place for one week - including "airing it out with the window open" as the store manager suggested - our formaldehyde test came back from ACS with a .078 ppm score. I learned through further research online, that this is on par with the average for the FEMA trailers (.077 ppm), testing as conducted by FEMA and the CDC.

It sickens me that I purposely set out to buy furniture without particle board, that the manufacturer has less-than-truthful claims and information on their website and in their product literature, that the store willfully misled me to capitalize on a sales situation (commission, etc.), and that now I have these extraordinary levels of toxins in a room where my daughters are supposed to sleep for the next 15 years. And I spent $4,000 on it all.

I would like to think that I am a fairly bright person and an astute consumer. I tried my best to research this purchase and ask the right questions at the store. I don't know what more I could have done. Aren't there laws against consumer fraud, or mis-representation of products? (Such as: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2002/03/16cfr250.htm)

I am at a loss as to what exactly to do next. If there is any advice or suggestion that you might make for me in regard to my personal situation with the toxic furniture, I would be greatly appreciative.

Thank you,
Renee Triemstra
Troy, Michigan
rtriemstra@yahoo.com