What does 'chemically treated wood' really mean?
In the past few centuries, laminates, glues and synthetic preservatives have turned a natural building material into toxic waste.
A large percentage of modern wood products, furniture, building and flooring will be classified and treated as toxic waste. The same chemicals which turn wood into a toxic waste also diminish the quality of our lives and lead to questions like: "Why do I get headaches at home?", "Why can't I breathe properly?" or, "Why do I keep coughing?"
The three main uses are:
Chemical technology: adhesives, glues and laminate
Surface treatment: laminates and paints
Preservatives: insecticides and fungicides.
After decades of unconcerned use and patronizing talk by the industry, we now see some treatments (with active ingredients like PCP, Lindan and adhesives containing Formaldehyde) recognized and declared as dangerous!
This only happened after many people had suffered terrible damage to their health and now Formaldehyde has been replaced by another highly questionable synthetic resin which has Isocyanate on its list of ingredients. It is hard to believe to see the devil being chased out by the deuce.
Clever sales techniques praise Formaldehyde-free furniture, wall and floor panels as healthy, natural and eco-friendly. But they forget to mention their adhesives contain Isocyanate.
Here is a quote from a personal talk I had with the head chemist of a famous natural paint manufacturer, Mr. Erwin Schusser: "If you compare the toxicity of Isocyanate and Formaldehyde, you will find Isocyanates are definitely not less toxic...!"
Properties of Isocyanates:
Isocyanates are highly reactive chemicals. They are used in large quantities for the production of polyurethanes.
The use of polyurethane varies widely (mattresses, soft foam materials, sealants, insulation, adhesives, finishes and others).
The toxicity of polyurethane mainly stems from the original and unchanged chemical compound Isocyanate. Isocyanates are constantly being exuded into the surrounding atmosphere and have a highly irritating effect on mucus membranes, particularly the respiratory system. Allergic reactions like coughs, asthma and other breathing difficulties and headaches often are triggered.
Isocyanates are highly active chemicals which react with skin and mucus membranes. They are even more toxic than Formaldehyde. The replacement used in chipboard is Diphenylmeth and Isocyanate which forms Diaminodiphenylmethane. This compound is strongly suspected to cause cancer.
In a fire situation, Polyurethane is a death trap. Poisonous gases like Hydrogen Cyanide (Alder/Mackwitz: Eco tricks and Swindles, page 274).
Isocyanates are part of a particularly dangerous group of chemicals. Even small concentrations of fumes or dust (produced by normal wear and tear of these materials) in a room can cause serious health damage. Irritation of the mucus membranes to nose, bronchus and lungs leads to shortness of breath and chest pain. Under prolonged exposure spasmodic coughs and bronchitis are the result. Isocyanides cause allergic reactions, e.g., Isocyanate asthma, a lung disease (Katalyse Umweltgruppe: das Oekologische Heimwerkerbuch; Rohwohlt, S 152).
Substances which are suspected to be carcinogenic (aromatic amine amino acids) can be found in Isocyanate products and also are being released by them. Even if it were possible to swiftly warn people about the dangers posed by Isocyanates and the chemical compound would be removed, more and more medical cases of Isocyanates toxicity would become public.
Precious time is passing by and in the meantime the industry is looking for new chemicals to replace the current ones. The wounds inflicted on nature by the production of synthetic products have not been factored in yet. Toxic treatments create toxic waste which cannot be put back into nature without causing more damage. It makes sense to use untreated wood for floors and cladding inside and outside. No one needs to take the risk in the first place.
Why are we following the dead-end road sign of the petrochemical industry? Why do we resolve simple wood-working steps with a sorcerer's apprentice mentality? Why would we inflict more damage to our health and environment?
If you wanted to prevent any chemical experiments on yourself, you should develop a healthy curiosity when buying wooden products. Prefer manufacturers and dealers who are open to disclosure of their product treatments and constituents. Someone who can prove the product is harmless to your health and the environment.
Holz100 Canada Inc.