Natural wood is the best material for healthy indoor environments

For thousands of years humans have been intrinsically connected to nature. Over that last few hundred years, even more so in the last 75 years, we have developed habits to live indoors for the largest part of our daily lives.

This disconnect to nature has many problems and drawbacks. One of the consequences has shown our coexistence with the building products we use is not healthy for some of us.

The ingredients in a majority of our manufactured building products have ingredients like plastic and PVC’s that can be harmful and especially in a enclosed room.

mafi believes that a connection to natural products and nature herself and is healthy and that humans need this connection. Wood, especially mafi wood with it open pores is a product that is completely safe to use in any space and has been used for centuries.

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Let’s be clear, wood with polyurethane and UV-oil finishes on the surface is not wood anymore!

mafi wood floors are made with only natural elements and have no toxins, whereas artificial products can potentially be unhealthy, especially after long time periods.

Wood is a natural product. If you define a natural product, the definition might be an unaltered product from nature. Wood products come from a plant in the forest that is manipulated physically by manufacturing and can become many surfaces in your internal space. Wood, that has been manipulated with any artificial products on the surface or internally, technically changes the product to an artificial one and has limited benefits.

Once the surface, or what we as humans interact with, changes it becomes different. If a surface is coated with an artificial product like a hard surface product such as polyurethane or varnish, we no longer interact with the product below thus the surface is what the product becomes. You will no longer be interacting with the wooden surface; you are touching, cleaning and wearing down the artificial surface.

Therefore, a “wood floor” becomes a plastic floor supported by wood. There is no known physical health benefit to a plastic coated wood floor whereas a wood floor that is natural has multiple health benefits. Those will be summarized by the studies below.

Scientific proof: natural wood increases your health!

The studies below we have selected are a small select sampling of the hundreds of research papers that show the positive effects of a wood and human connection.

The tree is an amazing plant that is our number one source for a building material, our primary source of heat and shelter. Throughout the 300,000-year relationship between humans and wood, humans have adapted to work with wood to survive and thrive.

These several studies will help us to understand scientifically, how the relationship between humans and wood is beneficial and authentic.

The result of all of these studies shows that natural wood in almost any form of shape color or size will not harm us and even in some cases heals us.

Study: Building material naturalness index

Perceptions from Finland, Norway and Slovenia

AUTHOR: Michael D. Burnard and Anders Q. Nyrud (2017)

"Wood was by far the most natural product considered with steel painted white being the least natural."

This research paper found that natural elements especially wood, which are life and lifelike can, produce positive experience indoors. In three countries; Finland Norway and Slovenia, people were asked what of 22 products, used in building materials, were considered more or less natural. Wood was by far the most natural product considered with steel painted white being the least natural. This study therefore shows that wood can incite feelings of nature over any of the 22 other common building products.

mafi recreates nature as clearly as possible by offering what nature gives us in every tree, unadulterated and free of toxins or barriers. mafi does not alter wood in any artificial way and produces a natural product.

Study: Influence of wood wall panels on physiological and psychological responses

AUTHOR: S. Sakuragawa, Y. Miyazaki (2005)

"The final results showed that participants were more relaxed with their view of a wood wall versus the steel wall."

In this research paper the control room had a white thick curtain that was hiding a wooden wall. Fourteen healthy male college students were each placed, one at a time, in either of two rooms, three meters away and in front of curtain-hidden walls. One wall had made of natural wood and the other was made with a white steel panel behind the curtains. The subjects are monitored with medical equipment that measured heart rates and subsequently asked questions about their state of emotion during the test. The curtain was moved away to reveal either wall.

The final results showed that participants were more relaxed with their view of a wood wall versus the steel wall. Furthermore, the students were less depressed and have less angry feelings when experiencing the wood wall compared to the steel wall. They also felt calm, stable and safe in the wooden walled room.

This shows that humans like to look at wood versus steel. This study is another result that shows humans prefer natural products to artificial ones. Mafi is again a pioneer in introducing a natural unadulterated wood surface for a sense of calmness and relaxation in interiors.

Study: Ingridients emitted from Japanese cedar interior walls induce physiological relaxation

AUTHOR: Eri Matsubara, Shuichi Kawai (2013)

"Wood has benefits without seeing it."

This study in Japan placed sixteen healthy college students into a room. Sectioned from view was a small wooden wall made of Japanese cedar. They were asked to perform math equations as quickly as possible for a certain amount of time and then to rest for a 5 min period. After this short break, they were asked to start more math problems. This went on for a certain period. The volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.’s) emitted by the cedar wall in the room were shown to assist the subjects in remaining physiologically relaxed under the stressful conditions versus the same room and the same tests without the wood present.

Wood has benefits without seeing it. Our olfactory sense is connected to our front portion of the brain, which helps us to relax. We feel safe when we engage those certain smells from wood. This is because of our relationship with it. Our shelters were made of wood for thousands of years and our bodies are used to feeling safe in a wood structure. Those scents that we receive help us to feel safe and relaxed. This is only possible when wood is not coated with artificial barriers and left permanently open.

mafi floors are completely natural and are open pored to be interacted with by our olfactory sense.

Study: Austrian swiss stone pine saves one hour of heart beat per day

AUTHOR: Joanneum Research center

"This shows that having no surface protection is beneficially to humans for relaxation and for concentration."

The study above is the result of a 2003 test done by the Joanneum Research center in Austria with native Swiss Stone Pine. In this study, thirty people (15 couples) were asked to sleep in artificial wood beds and natural wood beds made with Stone Pine with no coating, essentially raw wood beds. The results showed that while they slept in the raw Swiss Stone Pine wood beds, the heart rate dropped by 3,490 beats per 8 hours of sleep. This is equivalent to a full hour of hard work in the daytime.

This shows that having no surface protection is beneficially to humans for relaxation and for concentration. Once a hard surface protection is applied, the wood does not serve this essential function.

mafi wood will never have a barrier and is the best choice for a healthy workspace and a healthy bedroom.

Study: Effect of Phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function

AUTHOR: Q.Li, M. Kobayashi 2009

"This is further evidence that having exposure to the natural scents of wood is crucial to longevity and human health."

In this study, twelve healthy males between ages 37 and 60 years old were subjected to sleep in hotel rooms. Phytoncides derived from Japanese cedar oil was introduced into the ventilation system. The study monitored body functions, urine samples and blood before and after the experiment.  The researchers were attempting to recreate the forest atmosphere inside the research space and to see how those chemicals from plants can affect the blood on an intercellular level.

The results showed that there was an increase in the number of NK and NKT cells after the exposure to the Pine Phytoncides and a decrease in adrenaline and noradrenalin in urine. It also concluded an increase in the number of hours of sleep per night compared to the control room.

This is further evidence that having exposure to the natural scents of wood is crucial to longevity and human health. The Japanese have studied the positive effects of walking in the woods for decades and in fact have incorporated this exercise in the national health care program.

mafi uses no surface restriction so we can allow these beneficial chemicals to engage us constantly and uninhibited by a barrier finish or coating.

Study: New insights into the psychological dimension of wood–human interaction

AUTHOR: M. Luisa Dematè

"Clients can rest on the fact that mafi wood helps people be more productive and less stressed at work or home."

In this study over one hundred participants were asked to judge a room covered with wood elements and another room with covered in plaster. They were assessed multimodal sensory questions referring to affective and cognitive responses to each a wooden room or a plaster room setting, their emotional state and their environmental behavior also the biophilia degree. The results revealed that wood induces more positive emotions than plaster, and that individual biophilia degree appears to influence the tactile, auditory, and olfactory evaluation of the settings.

It furthermore indicates how wood used in real buildings positively influences human psychological well-being and highlights the importance of considering multiple sensory modalities when investigating wood–human interaction.

mafi wood products can be used as wall treatments, on the ceiling or as a floor providing an multitude of applications to fit any budget or space design in commercial, residential or healthcare projects. Clients can rest on the fact that mafi wood helps people be more productive and less stressed at work or home.

Summary: only wood has 100% positive and 0% negative effects on human health

These and many hundreds of other studies emphasize the known truth about how overwhelming majorities of people feel positive about having wood surfaces and also our innate sensory relationship with it in our interior environments.

Scientific studies simply lay out the facts and make it an understandable way to look at what wood can do to help us connect with nature.

Feel free to find your own studies. It is interesting to note that almost all of the studies we have found showed there are no negative effects of wood.

Wood in its natural form is beneficial; it’s a biological connector and helps us to feel better. It must be considered the best choice for productive happy and healthy partners at work and home.

But let’s be clear again, wood with finish on the surface is not wood anymore. So learn more about how mafi preserves natural wood in its over 100 years of experience.

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