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Old chair with orange dust

- 14 Nov 2017 -
4 posts / 0 new

Hi everyone. I'm ridiculously less knowledgeable than all of you here I think. I've only done a few minor projects. I've done a search for this here and elsewhere online and I just can't find enough info.

I have an old wingback chair (probably from the 1960s) that my aunt gave me. It's sort of on loan as she said her daughter wanted it "eventually". I've since moved thousands of miles away, taken chair with me, had some kids. My toddler had an accident on it (oops) and I took off the cover to try to clean it up.

I've discovered a ton of dark orange dust under the seat almost looks like saw dust. I have figured out this is due to degredation of some kind, but I can't figure out anymore.

Mostly, I'm panicking a bit because I saw some suggestions online that this dust is dangerous, and I have small kids. Should I get rid of this chair? Is it dangerous? I know I said I'd keep this chair for my cousin, but she'll have to understand if I need to get rid of it. Also, I live in an urban setting--no garage or outside space to shove it in until I can rip it up/reupholster/clean.

Thank you for your insight!


- 14 Nov 2017

It is polyurethane dust, from the polyurethane foam breaking down.

As with any dust, if you inhale a certain amount of it, it can be bad for you. That being said, a sand box has silica dust in it, and if you breathe enough of that in it is bad for you. What is that threshold? .... you would have to consult an expert for an accurate answer to that question.

I am not a toxicologist, but I have a hard time believing that the offending chair is producing enough polyurethane dust to expose your toddler to the specific threshold that is detrimental. The good thing is, if your chair was produced prior to 1975, that there are not likely any flame retardants in that foam dust. Those should be the primary exposure concern for a developing child. I think you will get many more safety miles out of limiting your child's exposure to endocrine disruptors in plastics, and other developmentally damaging chemicals , than worrying about some PU dust from a vintage chair.

I suggest you do your aunt/cousin a solid, and get the chair refoamed. Problem solved.

- 14 Nov 2017

Or it's latex foam that has hardened and crumbled into dust. That stuff can be so fine that it can sift through fabric. I don't know if it has any dangerous chemical properties but it could definitely be an irritant if you inhale enough of it.

The deteriorated urethane foam crumbs that I've seen have been more on the gummy, sticky side than dry like sawdust. But both are messy and not something you want to have around the house.

- 14 Nov 2017


Look at what the orange dust did for Donald Trump!


Aunt Mark

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