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Improving Air Quality in Your Community

Outdoor Air - Industry, Business, and Home: Wood Furniture Operations - Additional Information

This information will help you gain a better understanding of wood furniture operations. The topics below address the following questions:

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What are wood furniture operations?

Wood furniture operations manufacture or refinish furniture for homes, offices, stores, public buildings, and restaurants. Wood furniture operations activities include drying, sawing, waxing, sanding, and finishing, all of which may release pollutants into the air and may contribute to health concerns in the facility and in the community. EPA has developed a sector notebook for the Wood Furniture and Fixtures Industry (PDF) (124 pp, 1.0 MB).

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What kinds of pollutants are emitted from wood furniture operations?

Wood furniture operations emit pollutants such as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). These pollutants can contribute to health problems that may affect shop employees, their families, customers, and the community. While Federal, state, local, and Tribal regulations limit the amount of emissions from wood furniture operations, dangerous releases of HAPs can occur if a wood furniture operations facility does not operate in compliance with regulations.

  • Finishes, stains, and topcoats applied during the finishing process can release some hazardous air pollutants and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Chemicals in these substances can react in the air to form ground-level ozone (smog), which has been linked to a number of respiratory effects. EPA has developed an extensive Web site on ground-level ozone.
  • Other sources of toxic emissions include adhesives used for gluing and solvents used during cleanup. Stripping processes during refinishing can also emit air pollution.
  • Sanding can generate particle pollution (dust). Breathing dust can cause respiratory problems and other harmful effects. EPA has created a Web site related to particle pollution.

For more information on the toxicity of these pollutants, check out information in EPA's Health Effects Notebook and on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). EPA also has more information available at its Air Toxics Web site.

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How can I help wood furniture operations reduce air pollution?

  • Make Connections
    • Get to know local wood furniture operations owners and operators. They know best about the materials and processes used in their business and the regulations with which they must comply.
    • Keep local media aware of progress by sending them updates. Publicity can reward success and attract more public involvement.
  • Make a Plan
    • One idea is to form a work group that includes local owners and operators to develop and implement workable pollution reduction plans.
  • Locate Resources
    • Find state, local, and Tribal contacts.
    • Use the resources listed on these Web pages to get help with analysis, technical information, equipment, and funding.
  • Sponsor Training
    • Small facilities may need funding in order to attend or provide training.
    • Improved skills lead to reduced furniture finish usage and exposure for workers.
  • Reward Facilities
    • Use media connections to provide coverage for successful efforts. Positive publicity can increase business.
    • Visibly displayed awards or certificates may also increase business.

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What other Web sites related to pollution reduction for wood furniture operations are available?

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