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Question from Michayla

We’re looking to buy a used leather sofa. This is one that was made by Executive Leather Inc “Manufacturer of quality leather furniture” (Hickory, NC). It was owned by the seller’s grandparents she believes maybe 10 years who then gave it to them who have currently had it for 7 years. The tag was hard to read but looks like the cushion is 90% urethane foam 10% polyester. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything online to get more information. Would you think this would be safe enough to own after ~17 years of offgassing? **After asking her husband he said it might be closer to 15-20 years old that the grandparents owned them. So between 17-27 years offgassed.

Lisa’s Answer


Unfortunately, upholstered furniture with polyurethane foam is not something that gets better as it gets older.  Flame retardants were used in foam starting in the 1970’s so that couch most likely contains them.  As the foam degrades over time the flame retardants end up in household dust.  Additionally, formaldehyde, also a likely component, can off-gas indefinitely.  Finally, leather is processed with hundreds of chemicals.  I can’t say for sure if old leather is better or worse than new leather because I would have to understand each chemical used in the process.



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