Key Considerations & Features when choosing Childs Ergonomic Furniture
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Key Considerations When Choosing Ergonomic Furniture

Our children’s health and well-being are of utmost importance and we take extra care in what they do, use, eat and see. We are also at times unaware that there are unseen harmful substances within things they eat and use.

Following are the various concerns, features and materials to consider when choosing an ergonomic product.

Table Top

The material used on the Ergonomic Table Top is usually made from either Chip or Laminated Wood. These types of wood come in different quality, density and design. So which has the better material? Let us explore the following parameters:


1. Emission from the wood used on table top

We may think that a wooden table is after all just a table, but when we look a bit closer, we will be surprised by the contents and substance used by manufacturers.

There is a substance mainly used in the production of industrial glue, paste or resins. These act as glues for wood products, pulp, paper, particle boards and coatings. The industrial name for this substance is called Formaldehyde (naturally occurring organic compound). It is a colourless gas with a pungent, irritating odour.

Formaldehyde is a very harmful substance and has been shown to cause nasal cancers in animals. Some human studies have indicated possible association or links between other cancers and formaldehyde exposure.

Hence, do look for manufacturers that display products with ‘E0/E1’ marking. The following table is an illustration of emission levels. E0 is the highest and safest level.

 

Reference:

Wikipedia: Formaldehyde#Safety
Nicnas: www.nicnas.gov.au
Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia: www.ewp.asn.au

Kid2Youth Standard:
Particle/Chipboard are certified with Zero-One Formaldehyde emission.

2. Types of wood/board used on table top
There are predominately 3 main types of boards used by furniture manufacturers.
Plywood: It is a sheet material manufactured from thin layers or "plies" of wood veneer that are glued together with adjacent layers having their wood grain rotated up to 90 degrees to one another.
Melamine Faced Chipboard (MFC): Chipboard board, also known as Particleboard, is an engineered wood product manufactured from wood chips, sawmill shavings, or even sawdust, and a synthetic resin or another suitable binder, which is pressed and extruded. A type of plastic material (Urea Melamine resins) are used to cover the wood surfaces so as to offer water resistance. It is important to note that some MFC board are not fully covered, mainly to save on manufacturing costs.
Medium density fiberboard (MDF): MDF is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibres, often in a defibrillator, combining it with wax and a resin binder, and forming panels by applying high temperature and pressure. MDF is generally denser than plywood. It is made up of separated fibres but can be used as a building material similar in application to plywood. It is stronger and much denser than particle board.
Reference:
Wikipedia: Particle_Board
Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia: Facts on Particle Board
Kid2Youth Standard:
• Uses both MFC and MDF Boards.
• MFC boards are fully covered with Melamine for maximum moisture resistance.
Melamine Faced ChipboardMedium Density Fiberboard

3. Resistance to humidity

South East Asia is in the Tropical Zone and humidity level is very high throughout the year. People living in these countries are very much aware that humidity not only causes discomfort and skin irritation (to some), it also damages our valuable products. Hence, look for table tops that offer maximum protection against humidity.

Moisture Resistant (MR) properties: Board that is manufactured meeting Moisture Resistant (MR) properties, displays a high degree of resistance to moisture. Individual sheets of MR Particleboard can usually be identified by green particles in the core of the board, visible on board edges.

Covered with Melamine: Melamine is a form of plastic and is heat moulded onto boards surfaces as part of the manufacturing process. Lower cost boards have melamine face on top side while the bottom side is either bare or with superficial covering. Some manufacturers have plastic decorative panels to cover the bare chipboard edge.

Reference:

Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia: Facts on Particle Board

Kid2Youth Standard:

MCF boards are fully covered with Melamine and with Moisture Resistant (MR) properties. Green particle indicators can be found in the core of the board.

Moisture Resistant (MR) properties Board with green particles in the core of the board

4. How friendly are we towards environment

As we are all aware, the world is changing and Earth's Ecosystems are decaying. Let us do our part in preserving the earth’s vulnerable environment. Use only products with the PEFC certification.

PEFC Certified: The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international non-profit, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management. PEFC works throughout the entire forest supply chain to promote good practice in the forest and to ensure that timber and non-timber forest products are produced with respect for the highest ecological, social and ethical standards.

Reference: PEFC

Kid2Youth Standard: Particle/Chipboard suppliers are PEFC Certified.

Mechanism

Table with four legs may not need much if any technological consideration. But technology and product quality become a critical consideration when a table is expected to move up and down frequently. Besides good design, the reputation of the manufacturer of the mechanical driver has to be same if not better than the furniture manufacturer. Look for furniture with reputable components.

Non-moving supporting components such as the bolts and level are usually not a major concern. It is the driving device that could cause operating issues. There are mainly 4 types of drivers used by manufacturers:

1. Pulley System: This is a small mechanical winch that you would need to hook onto the table and then pull a yard to turn the winch. One side of the winch is to turn the table up while flipping to other side is to turn the table down. There is a possibility of misplacing the palm size winch. A young child would not be able to re-attach the winch effectively.
2. Gear system: Turning a hand level to crank a spur gear to move the table either upwards or downwards. Moving the table’s height could be a chore, especially when you want to move a heavy table from seating to standing position. There is also a possibility of misplacing the level.
3. Pneumatic Gas Spring: This is not a mechanical spring, but a device that uses Nitrogen gas pressure to move a piston. By flipping a level or knob, the table top will move upwards due to the pressurised Nitrogen gas in the cylinder. To move the table down, the user would need to add weight onto the table top to counter the pressurise Nitrogen gas in the cylinder. There is concern about cylinder leaking especially from non-reputable brands.
4. Human powered without driving devices: User will lift or lower the table top. The downside to this is the table top could be too heavy especially when it is filled with items.

    Kid2Youth Standard: Uses Stabilus Pneumatic Gas Spring, a world-renowned German manufacturer for Gas Lift. Cylinder leaking is very remote and the manufacturer is so confident that the standard warranty offered is 10 years.

    Paint system

    All manufacturers cover their bare steel frame with some form of protective coating. There are mainly 2 types of coating, either by conventional liquid paint or powder coating. The principle consideration is which is more durable and safer?

    The main difference between a conventional liquid Paint and Powder coating is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler parts in a liquid suspension form. The Powder coating is typically applied electrostatically and is then cured under high heat to allow it to flow and form a “plastic skin".

    The powder may be a thermoplastic or a thermoset polymer. It is usually used to create a hard finish that is tougher and does not peel off as compared to conventional paint. Children playing with toys or using tables and chairs will come into contact with the paint and various materials used. Potential hazards are ingestion choking cuts by sharp parts chemical substance.

    Powder coating is far more superior as compared to conventional liquid paint. Please see this video.

    Reference:

    Wikipedia: Toy Safety
    Wikipedia: EN 71.3
    Wikipedia: Powder Coating

    Kid2Youth Standard:

    a. Metals are covered with high-grade Dry Powder coating.
    b. Materials meeting EN71.3.