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Acronyms You Need to Know to Keep Your Home Safe and Cozy

If you are shopping for furniture, décor items, or appliances for your home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the vocabulary. Sometimes, it feels as though you need a glossary just to get through the showroom. In addition to trying to keep clear on different features and styles, you may run into these common acronyms when shopping:


Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) are energy-saving light bulbs intended to replace traditional light bulbs. If you are buying a lighting fixture or lamp for your apartment or house, you may notice that your lighting choice allows or does not allow CFLs. For example, if you buy a lamp with a dimmer, you will likely not be able to use a CFL light. You can learn more about these light bulbs here.



Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are weak magnetic and electrical fields that are produced by wireless devices and electronic equipment. This World Health Organization website provides additional details. EMFs have been linked in some studies to childhood cancers and other serious health risks, so if you are buying any electric appliances or electronics for your home, you may wish to read more about EMFs and look for appliances that produce little or no EMFs.



Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified furniture is made from wood that adheres to the sustainable forestry rules set out by the FSC. If you are concerned about the environment, buying FSC-certified furniture gives you some peace of mind. You can read more about the FSC and sustainable furniture at this site.



HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) is used to describe a standard applied to air filters and some vacuums. Appliances that meet the HEPA standard must meet standards set by the United States Department of Energy (DOE). If you have allergies or are concerned about air quality in your home, a HEPA filter or vacuum may help you to remove some fine particles from your indoor air. To learn more about the HEPA standard, visit this site.



Medium density fiberboard (MDF), also known as engineered wood, is made from wood fibers that are bonded together with pressure and heat. Furniture made from MDF tends to be lighter and less expensive than real wood pieces and can still be durable.



The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certifies wood products – including furniture and home décor items that meet standards for sustainable wood harvesting and production. If you are shopping for wood furniture and looking for eco-friendly products, this is a certification to look for. You can find out more about the SFI labels here.



Often used as a fire retardant in furniture foam and other products, is(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBPH) actually replaces older flame retardants that were considered unsafe. Unfortunately, according to this article and others, there are still health concerns with TBPH and other foam products.



Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals which have a low boiling point and a high vapour pressure in regular conditions, which means they can easily leach from finishes or paints and into your air. VOCs have been linked to immune problems, allergic reactions, and respiratory ailments in children who have been exposed to toxic VOCs over a longer period of time. It is important to look for low-VOC paints, carpets, finishes, and stains when decorating your home, especially when decorating a baby or child’s room. To learn more about how VOCs may be affecting your indoor air quality, you can read more at the EPA website here.


While there is no such thing as a completely safe home, being aware of what is in your furniture can go a long way towards keeping your family safe. Consider getting familiar with the above abbreviations before shopping so that you can make smart decisions – as well as stylish choices – for your home.