What’s in Polyurethane Fumes and are they Harmful


Polyurethane is commonly used in houses to give wood floors their shine. It also helps to protect the wood floor from water stains, or from liquid seeping in between the cracks ruining the flooring. This product serves a purpose, however it can also be harmful for your health. Many the fumes from polyurethane will begin to fade over time, usually within one year, but majority of problems can be experienced within the first year of having your flooring installed.

What’s in Polyurethane Fumes

You may be wondering what are polyurethane fumes, and why are they dangerous. Polyurethane fumes contain many chemical compounds including volatile organic compounds also known as VOC’s. In case you’re wondering what are VOC’s and whether they are dangerous or no, many of these VOC’s are two to five times higher when used indoors compared to when they are used outdoors. Polyurethane fumes side effects typically result from inhaling these VOC’s. There are many side effects that occur, but their affects can vary from individual to individual.

Respiratory Side Effects

Polyurethane fumes side effects include irritation and problems with the respiratory system. Eye and throat irritation are common symptoms from otherwise healthy individuals. Headaches, nausea and vomiting can follow if the individual is not removed form the fumes. Coughing and trouble breathing can occur with increased prolonged exposure.

Other Side Effects

Aside from the above listed side effects, there are some that can affect your skin. Exposure to the skin for extended periods of time can cause a rash or an outbreak. Avoid getting this product on your skin, and if you do come in contact with it, thoroughly wash it off your skin as soon as possible. Those who experience migraines should avoid these fumes, as they may experience more frequent head aches. One of many polyurethane fumes side effects involves swelling of brain cells resulting in headaches and migraines.


There are a few things that you can do to limit your exposure to polyurethane fumes. When applying a polyurethane clear coat ensure that there is ample drying time. This can provide the fumes a chance to escape so that they are not breathed in. Ensure that there is adequate airflow throughout the house where you are applying it. Avoiding polyurethane fumes for as long as possible can help reduce the risk of polyurethane fumes side effects that you or your family may experience.

Being mindful of polyurethane fumes side effects and eliminating them or avoiding them can play a significant role in your health and help reduce problems. If you are having floors done, talk to the professionals about how to avoid the most fumes as possible. If you are doing it yourself, take the time to make sure the area is well ventilated and that there is a way for the fumes to escape. Avoid opening the windows as dust could blow in and land on the coat before it is dry, but a fan and a warm setting can help the coat dry more efficiently and help make it safer to enter the area sooner. If you feel a though you have entered the area too soon and experience any of the above listed side effects, move to fresh air as soon as possible. Get medical attention as soon as possible if symptoms do not get better. Avoiding fumes as much as possible can eliminate many if not all side effects.

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