The furniture finishing industry is somewhat renowned for its use of questionable chemicals and behind-the-curtain practices. At one point in time, craftsmen used natural finishes like oil and wax or shellac.
But somewhere along the line there was a movement towards more durable, highly engineered wood finishes.
While these advancements in technology created finishes that are more durable, easier to apply, and cheaper than the traditional alternatives, they have also added some concerns about environmental sustainability and toxicity.
Just check out the standard warning that the State of California requires on many of the most common finishes sold in the US today:
WARNING: This product is known to the State of California to cause birth defects and other reproductive issues.
This movement towards chemically engineered wood finishes has created enough concern among consumers that third party testing organizations have sprung up to evaluate the safety of these finishes. One of the most common standards for verifying the safety of wood finishes is GreenGuard Certification.