Is Polyurethane Toxic?

Image of a floor with polyurethane finish

Is polyurethane toxic? This is a question that you will come across almost evry toher day. Regardless of where you live, small rural towns, or busy cities, there is every chance that you have come across a polyurethane product. So,

Is Polyurethane Toxic?

Sadly, scientists found polyurethane to have isocyanates, a compound that can harm your lungs. Therefore, polyurethane is toxic. You must at all cost try to avoid using it and opt for its alternatives such as Tung oil 

What is Polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a member of a large family of elastic polymers, best known as rubber. They are a little different from the conventional rubber as they exist as liquids.

Polyurethane exists in different forms and shapes. It’s such a versatile compound that makes it the best fit for an abundance of applications as it can quickly work in places of other expensive materials. Other than that, polyurethane is flexible and durable. Therefore, it cuts as one of the common materials for coating and insulation.

There are many health consequences that you can develop after prolonged exposure to this compound. They include irritation of the lung and the skin. Other possible health conditions that this product can cause include asthma attacks.

Individuals with cases of migraines must, by all means, keep off polyurethane fumes as they can make human brain cells swell, which causes severe headaches. Also, expectant mothers, sick people, kids, and the elderly need to stay away from polyurethane fumes. These fumes can trigger colds, coughs, and asthma.

Polyurethane can further cause stomach rumbles, dizziness, and nausea.

Alternatives to Polyurethane

The paints, coatings that you see around you almost all the times are toxic and can have unpleasant side effects in your health. The conventional paints that we use today are extremely toxic. There are less poisonous alternatives that you can consider for use in your home. Here’s the list:

Candelilla Wax

Candelilla wax is a natural plant product. It’s an extract of Candelilla shrub leaves. A decision to use candelilla wax comes with an extra green condition due to its minimal impacts on the environment. 

Vegetarians call candelilla wax a ‘bee-free alternative to polyurethane.’ There are a vast number of beauty brands that use it in place of beeswax. Feel free to use the candelilla wax in a variety of home projects, such as polishing of the furniture or wooden floors.

Green Polyurethane

Green polyurethane is a remodeled hybrid of polyurethane which contains no hazardous isocyanates. It’s a possible near-perfect replacement for polyurethanes that have isocyanates.

Green Polyurethane boast of other added advantages like its coating containing no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They are 100% solids-based. Polyurethanes resist degradations by other chemicals by up to 30% and 20% more resistant to wear and tear. Green Polyurethane also cures in low temperatures conditions.

Hard Varnish

The hard varnish is another perfect alternative for polyurethane that intensifies the color of your wooden floors. It protects the surfaces of the wood against water infiltration and various stains from potential spills. Hard varnish as a polyurethane alternative is a plant-based oil mixed with a natural hardener. The hardener ensures a durable finish. We suggest that you use hard varnish for floors, cabinetry, wooden toys, doors, furniture, and kitchen benchtops.

Tung Oil

This oil comes from a Chinese native tree. Its name originates from the leaves of the tree, which are heart-shaped. The name ‘Tung’ means ‘heart’ in Chinese. 

This oil is excellent for finishing as it enhances the appearance of the wood. It has existed and remained in active use for centuries in China. It permeates the wood, and bind to form an impermeable layer that repels water. Tung oil has a protective layer that can penetrate the wood for up to 5 mm.

Using this oil as a preservative works best for the exterior work. It has a thin layer that makes it less useful for the underground set up. Tung oil is light, which enables it to permeate deep into the wood; in the process, it creates a lasting wet look which highly emphasizes the wood grain and highlights its true beauty. 

AFM Safecoat

AFM Safecoat Hard Seal remains an alternative if you are looking to renovate your house. It’s an all-round clear gloss sealer; its manufacturing is to offer high resistance towards physical effects like scratching. Applying it well enables the forming of a continuous hard seal that guards against any poisonous off-gassing, this leaves you with an improved condition of indoor air.

Its hard seal has a reputation of a low-odor, a characteristic that makes it safe around people who are highly sensitive to chemicals. This sealant is best for hardwood or particleboard. It belongs to the family of ‘less toxic’ products with a wide range of sealants and varnishes.

Is there a non-toxic polyurethane?

Yes, there is a non-toxic polyurethane.

There exist different types of polyurethanes (shellac, poly, or clear coat), which have labels like “environmentally friendly,” in the real sense they are not wholly safe. ECOS WoodShield Varnish is an excellent example of a non-toxic polyurethane and, above all, contains no traditional paint odor responsible for health complications mentioned earlier.