Nursey Smells Like Chemicals

honeyhazeOctober 9, 2008

I'm expecting in February and have been furnishing our nursery for the past several months. SOMETHING in there is giving off a terrible chemical scent. I've tried to narrow it down, but I haven't had any luck so far. Here's what we have:

- Babymod crib. This was the first item put into the room and it didn't smell bad at all. I don't think this is the problem.

- IKEA Poang chair. This thing REEKED when I first brought it home and opened the package. It was the cushions. I aired them out in the sun for a couple of weeks and the scent dramatically faded after awhile. When I put my nose up to a cushion now there isn't any detectable scent coming from it.

- Pressboard moldings. I bought these by mistake and we ended up installing them anyway. They had an odor when I first stacked them in the room and they might be the offending party, but I'm not sure.

- IKEA Expedit shelving. These also had a strong odor when I installed them. What's up with IKEA stuff smelling so bad?

I'm not sure what to do. I know I made a mistake by using fiberboard that likely has formaldehyde in it, but there's not a whole lot I can do now. The moldings are nailed up. The shelving is assembled and I wouldn't be able to pick up anything similar if I sold it and tried to buy solid wood. I've tried washing the surfaces with PureAyee, I've put out and bowls of baking soda and other odor absorbents, without much effect. I even filled the room with air purifying plants... one of the plants seemed to get kind of sick in there and I had to take it out (the others are fine).

I've had all the windows open and intend to continue airing out the room for as long as I can. It's been months. The chemical scent has faded some, but any time I close the windows I notice the smell again within an hour or two. Something in there is off-gassing likely crazy. I'm worried that this will continue after the baby is born and I'll have to start disassembling the room so that it's usable and doesn't have a chemical odor.

What can I do? I'm pretty sure it's either the crown molding or the shelving. Aside from removing them, I'll try anything. Different plants? A special type of spray? Some kind of surface treatment? I'll give it all a shot...

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You're going to hate this, but stop trying to cover up a smell when you think there may be formaldehyde in there! You're talking about putting a newborn in the room. Even if you manage to cover the smell to your satisfaction, consider that the baby will be in there full time, more or less, and whatever the cover-up smells like it's not going to eliminate formaldehyde outgassing. Get a contractor in and remove the molding and shelving (or try the easier one first for a day or so in case it's that one) and put up new one(s). You can't imagine how serious such a thing could be for an infant and until you know FOR SURE that the place is safe, don't fool around with sprays or whatever.. it's not just about what you can smell.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 7:08AM
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I have IKEA shelving in our house (and PLENTY of IKEA case goods), and have had NO problems with outgassing at all.

I think it is your molding, not shelving....

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:28AM
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Yes, but it's not something to guess about. Regardless of what you (western pa) may have in your house, from wherever whenever, it's what's in honeyhaze's nursery that matters.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 9:15PM
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Is it possible that your sense of smell is really heightened because you're pregnant? Maybe the smell is not abnormal (or dangerous) at all. Has somebody else smelled it?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:25AM
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I would try to get a sampling of the shelving and molding first and test a piece of each item before dismantling everything. You have a little time before the baby is due (congratulations, by the way!). If you don't have scrap molding leftover, can you buy a piece of the same material? Put it in a container with a lid or empty drawer,small closet, etc. See if you can duplicate the odor.

Is it possible to take a piece of the shelving out to test it? Since it sounds like you have your heart set on this shelving, is there some kind of product you can use to seal it? It might be worth the time to contact the company with an inquiry about their product.

Do you have new flooring in the room, too? I know new carpeting can give off an odor.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 1:28PM
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Do you have any new rugs are carpet in the room? If not, I'd do a process of elimination to try and find the odor. First, move the furniture to another room and air out the room. If the odor is still there I'd then use a no-VOC sealer or paint on the molding and shelves.

Also, have you recently painted the room and did you use a no/voc paint?
I used a SW paint one time that had such a bad odor I was forced to seal and repaint the room.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 9:06PM
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