A Wall Street Journal article highlights how regulations that can improve health can also increase costs. There is a law under discussion that would put a maximum on the amount of formaldehyde emissions in the home. This would affect the production of materials like "particleboard, plywood and medium-density fiberboard, all commonly used materials in household furniture." The key is that producing these products with less formaldehyde will make them more expensive. The key question is how much safer are we with lower emissions (manufacturers say that we are already quite safe) and how much more it will cost. We must essentially ask what individuals are willing to pay and what the market will bear as a price to know that one's furniture poses less of a risk. Not a simple question--particularly considering the importance of furniture in our lives and the relatively low risks from formaldehyde.
If people knew the risks and the options, the market could in theory solve this problem itself. Just like some people like cherry and others by much less expensive woods for their furtniture based on appearance and durability, we could see a new line of "health safe" furniture that those who could afford could pay more for while leaving those who find the risk of little consequence to purchase less expensive furniture.
Lemon Zest, Turkish Apricot Scones
2 years ago